French tax office splashes out on pool-spotting AI

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The French tax authority has used AI software to detect undeclared swimming pools across the country, netting an extra €10m from thousands of owners.

The system, developed by Google and Capgemini, can identify pools on aerial images and cross-checks them with land registry databases. Launched as an experiment a year ago in nine French departments, it has uncovered 20,356 pools, the tax office said. It will now be extended nationwide.

In France, modifications to property, including adding swimming pools, must be declared to the tax office within 90 days of completion. As property taxes are based on the rental value of the property, improvements usually mean a tax increase. According to the French Government, a typical pool of 30 square metres would be taxed at about an extra €200 a year.

The tax office is now looking at using the system to spot undeclared annexes, extensions and verandas. “We are particularly targeting house extensions like verandas, but we have to be sure that the software can find buildings with a large footprint and not the dog kennel or the children’s playhouse,” Antoine Magnant, the deputy director general of public finances, told Le Parisien newspaper.

AAT Comment offers news and opinion on the world of business and finance from the Association of Accounting Technicians.

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