Transport for London (TfL) have disclosed that in addition to running up bills of £500,000 in unpaid parking fines, which diplomats have avoided or delayed paying last year, they also have an outstanding amount of £96 million in unpaid “Congestion Charges”. That is a considerable amount which would make some difference to TfLs budget shortfall.
The new Mayor Sadiq Khan repeated the claim by his predecessor that this tax is actually a “service charge” which should be paid. But the embassies claim that as it is a tax, and as foreign embassies are exempt from taxes, they do not have to pay it.
There is a simple question to ask here. What service is being provided? In essence none so the embassies are correct to refuse payment. It was only rebranded a service charge to fool those who have been forced to pay it that this was not simply a money raising tax but something else. It is not.
So my advice to the embassies is: “don’t pay it”. And TfL should stop calling it a service charge and correctly label it what it is.