The State relies on AI to detect undeclared pools

The State relies on AI to detect undeclared pools

While Google is regularly suspected of tax embezzlement, accepting, for example, a payment of almost a billion euros to the French state in 2019, its tools also know how to be useful to tax authorities. Thanks to the study of the aerial views of the American company, the French administration is preparing to recover ten million euros from French taxpayers who have not declared their swimming pool, reports the parisian according to a forthcoming report from the General Directorate of Public Finances (Dgfip).

The Bouches-du-Rhône in polo

Carried out in nine departments (Bouches-du-Rhône, Var, Alpes-Maritimes, Morbihan, Vendée, Maine-et-Loire, Rhône, Ardèche, Haute-Savoie), this experiment carried out with the specialized digital consultancy firm Capgemini was based on the development of software capable of massively processing aerial views to compare them with cadastres. A kind of artificial intelligence at the service of tax officials that led to the “discovery” of 20,356 unregistered swimming pools after a few months of adjustments to avoid, for example, assimilating places for the disabled, blue background, to swimming pools. Among the pilot departments, the Bouches-du-Rhône department is the champion of unreported pools, with 7,244 irregular pools, followed by the Var with 3,809 future regularizations, according to data collected by the Dgfip. Satisfied with the results, Bercy announced that this technique will be progressively extended to all departments in France from September and will generate a tax gain of 40 million euros until 2023.

A satisfaction that Philippe Laget, delegate of public finances of the CGT of Bouches-du-Rhône, intends to moderate. “We are not opposed to artificial intelligence and supports such as aerial views as long as they serve to go out into the field,” explains the trade unionist who fears in the long term a suppression of the body of surveyors. “The management report indicates that 94% of the taxpayers who received a letter confirmed the taxable nature of their pools, but the letters were sent during the summer, and the complaints are beginning to arrive,” he tempers. He also points to a relative “fiscal injustice”, with “a reference model established in the 1970s”. Because according to the law, when a pool is buried, semi-buried, fixed or ground or placed on a concrete slab and with a surface area greater than 10m², it is subject to tax. “Obsolete legislation that does not take into account the evolution of the market, such as kit pools”, considers Philippe Laget. “Less durable, they should pay less,” concludes the tax official.

Still some holes in the racket.

Furthermore, the system seems less efficient for some municipalities. In the east of Marseille, for example, “the software had only detected 30% of the swimming pools built and could see a person sent to the field”, says Philippe Laget. The fault, one imagines, with more wooded environments and more intimate pools. Finally, since the software relies on the characteristic blue and green colors of swimming pools, it probably won’t be long before yellow layers appear.

France has almost 3.2 million private pools, half of which are in-ground, according to a 2021 study commissioned by the Federation of Pool Professionals. A booming market: in 2021, 86,000 in-ground pools were built, compared to 70,000 in 2020 and 55,000 in 2019. An expansion that has been accompanied by relative democratization, since in 2021 24.7% of pool owners buried are employees, workers or farmers, an increase of 10 points in four years. In this sociography of inground pools, executives and business leaders represent 41.6% followed by retirees (33.7%).

Eventually, aerial data could also replace cadastral data on the ground. With consequences on the dwellings considered by the taxes, provided that the roofs have overhangs.

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