A current diplomatic showdown between the US and its motherland involves $4.7 million of unpaid fines US diplomats owe for refusing to pay London's traffic congestion charge.
So what are the transatlantic positions? The US calls the £8 per day charge to enter the city a tax. Therefore, tax-exempt foreign service officers need not pay. The UK sees the charge as service fee, not a tax. In 2006, London's mayor called the US ambassador a "chiseling little crook" for evading the charge. Other countries share the US position, and Russia and Japan owe millions too, according to Bloomberg.
London also has to swallow the pain of more serious diplomatic offenses. In 2007, 20 serious crimes (think assault, drinking and driving, or robbery), attributed to foreign diplomats, went unpunished thanks to diplomatic immunity.
I wonder if the US will try to get foreign diplomats headed below 60th street to pay the New York City congestion charge that goes into effect next March! Should the diplomats pay up like everyone else in London?