English translation: direct collection of tax/tax so collected
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After I got the sense from the varied answers that there is more complexity to the term than I knew, although I suspected from the quote marks around it, I later found the following history of the term:
...which illustrates the evolution of the term from pre-Christian days and over the next 4 or so centuries. It seems not to have always had the sense of an obligatory tax but rather an offering, but Michael's suggestion seems closest to the mechanics of it.