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United Daughters of the Confederacy could lose Virginia tax exemptions

The United Daughters of the Confederacy is seen
Shaban Athuman
/
VPM News
The United Daughters of the Confederacy headquarters is seen on Wednesday, Jan. 24 in Richmond.

Its Richmond headquarters would then be subject to the city’s regular tax rate.

The Virginia General Assembly is considering legislation that would remove a tax exemption for the United Daughters of the Confederacy. If approved, the change could significantly affect the organization’s balance sheet.

The UDC has labeled itself a historical and educational organization but is responsible for erecting Confederate monuments across the South.

The organization is among many listed in state code for property tax exemptions; several others are also related to Confederate history. UDC is the only group to receive an individual exemption in the state code section governing recordation taxes.

Last year, a similar bill was brought by Democratic House Speaker Don Scott — prior to his leading the chamber. Scott was made aware of the issue by a high school student.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy is seen
Shaban Athuman
/
VPM News
The United Daughters of the Confederacy headquarters is seen on Wednesday, January 24, 2024 in Richmond, Virginia.

Parrish Simmons, who works in the Richmond Assessor’s Office, wrote in an email that the organization’s Richmond headquarters along Arthur Ashe Boulevard would be subject to the city’s regular tax rate if the bill passes. The assessor valued the property at $4,436,000 in 2024. Richmond taxes property at $1.20 per $100 of assessed value, making the potential property tax bill $53,232 each year.

The bill, HB 568, could strain the organization, which had $10.4 million in net assets and an annual income of $157,988 according to 2022 tax filings. The Virginia branch had $2.1 million in assets and $147,897 in income.

“The financial subsidies provided to this organization … raises the questions about the values and priorities embedded in our tax policies,” said Del. Alex Askew (D–Virginia Beach), who’s sponsoring the proposal, during a House Finance subcommittee meeting on Monday.

Three women spoke against the bill, calling it “discriminatory.”

Democrats on the subcommittee recommended the bill move forward in a 5–3 party-line vote.

A similar bill, SB 517, is also in the Senate, where it has yet to be heard by the Commerce and Labor committee.

Jahd Khalil covers local government, the economy and labor issues for VPM News. Previously, he covered state government for RadioIQ and was a freelance journalist based in Egypt.