It will likely surprise most Alabama property owners that 156 years after the Civil War, they’re still paying a tax implemented to fund pensions for Confederate soldiers and their widows.
It’s safe to say that its original purpose has run its course. The last Confederate widow in Alabama, Alberta Martin of Elba, died in 2004. She had begun drawing a Confederate pension in 1996 after two local men learned that she wasn’t receiving the benefit.
However, it’s a rare occurrence when an implemented tax is removed, and the portion of the ad valorem assessment that feeds the Confederate pension fund has continued since its inception. Most of the money is diverted to other uses, but a portion — about $500,000 — was carved out to fund the Confederate Memorial Park in Mountain Creek, a state facility created in 1964 at the site of a former Confederate veterans home as “a shrine to the honor of Alabama’s citizens of the Confederacy.”
Now two state senators, a Republican and a Democrat, plan to co-sponsor a bill that would mandate an equal amount to be directed to Black history sites.
This is an initiative that’s long overdue, and should see every lawmaker sign on as co-sponsors and unanimous passage in both houses.
Otherwise, lawmakers should initiate efforts to end collection of the Confederate pension ad valorem tax.