A string of foreign embassies owe the taxman more than £1.5million of unpaid business rates, official figures reveal.
Those representing countries including Sudan, Iran and Zimbabwe have been accused of dodging bills.
Diplomatic representatives from foreign countries are exempt from national, regional or municipal taxes.
But embassies are encouraged to pay a portion of their bill, equating to just 6 per cent of what a normal firm would fork out.
The Foreign Office has now named and shamed 23 foreign embassies and diplomatic organisations that each owe more than £10,000 in business rates which should have been paid 12 months ago.
© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Embassies representing countries including Sudan, Iran (pictured in London) and Zimbabwe have been accused of dodging bills Robert Hayton, head of UK business rates at property firm Altus Group, said: ‘Many of these embassies operate from prime central London real estate and are actively dodging their tiny tax contributions.’
He added that the revelation that foreign embassies are not paying up is likely to anger companies which have seen major hikes to their bills.
Business rates are based on the estimated rental value of a property.
Traditional retailers are often subject to sky-high bills due to the size of stores.
Struggling Debenhams paid out £80million in business rates last year, while John Lewis paid £174million.
© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Zimbabwe is one of 23 countries named and shamed by the Foreign Office for dodging business rates worth more than £10,000 each The amount owed by foreign diplomatic missions and embassies has rocketed by 43 per cent compared with a year earlier.
The bills were due to be paid on December 31, 2017.More than £73,000 of the debt is owed by Syria, which the Government is unable to collect because the country is currently not represented in the UK.
The embassy run by Sudan was the biggest culprit for failing to pay its business rates bill, according to a written statement to Parliament by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon.
England, London, St.Jame’s Park and The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Photo by: Prisma by Dukas/UIG via Getty Images) The embassy, which is situated between Green Park and St James’s Park in London, owes £137,122 in business rates to the Government.
Iran is next on the list with £123,570 in business rates debts, followed by Zimbabwe, which owes £101,694.
Embassies from Qatar, Ukraine and Egypt all have so far refused to pay their business rates, as have the High Commissions of Malaysia and Pakistan, despite demands from officials at the Foreign Office.