In England and Ireland: a tax levied upon all occupiers of land or property within each parish to fund the maintenance of the parish church and the provision of services.
The compulsory rate was abolished in 1868 under the Compulsory Church Rates Abolition Act, although voluntary contributions may still be requested of Church of England parishioners by parish councils. The church rate was set and levied by the vestry and arrears recovered in the ecclesiastical court.
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in John Owen (1616–1683), theologian and Independent minister. From church + rate.