Virginia Moves Toward Removing Tax Breaks for Confederate Heritage Group

Both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly have passed bills that would eliminate unusual tax exemptions for a prominent Confederate heritage group with long ties to the state, presenting a difficult decision for Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

At issue is legislation that would remove tax exemptions for the marble-clad headquarters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a group that was founded in 1894 for women who descended from Confederate soldiers and has long been central to Virginia’s culture wars over Confederate heritage and the state’s racial history.

Since at least the 1950s, the group, whose stated purpose is to honor Confederate ancestors through memorial preservation and charity work, has been exempt from paying property taxes and recordation taxes, which are levied when property sales are registered for the public record.

Proponents of the legislation say the tax breaks, approved during segregation, reflect a time when state government and Confederate heritage groups had a close relationship. The group and its allies say the legislation could challenge the organization’s ability to function and could jeopardize its headquarters in Richmond.

On Monday, the State House of Delegates passed a bill that would revoke the exemptions while also eliminating the property tax exemptions for two other Confederate heritage entities, the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Inc. and the Confederate Memorial Literary Society.

About six members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy were present in the gallery and were introduced before the vote by Wren Williams, a Republican House member. A similar bill passed the State Senate last week.

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