The French tax authority “DGFiP” has discovered 20,356 household swimming pools that were previously unregistered using an artificial intelligence computer vision technology created by French IT company Capgemini.
The government may now charge other undeclared architectural features like annexes or verandas because this has generated an additional 10 million euros in tax revenue.
With the aid of Google’s cloud computing, Capgemini’s software automatically detects pools in aerial photos (by scanning for blue rectangles, for example) and compares the findings to data in real estate and tax databases to discover unreported pools. The owner violates tax law if it discovers that a pertinent address doesn’t have a pool registered. The initiative only covered nine out of the 96 metropolitan departments when it first started last October. The technology first mistook solar panels for swimming pools with a 30% mistake rate, but according to DGFiP, it has now improved accuracy.
French taxation on real estate is dependent on its rental value, which rises as a result of owners’ construction of additions or enhancements like swimming pools. For instance, a swimming pool that is 30 square meters in size will cost an additional 200 euros in taxes each year. Due to the recent heat wave, private pools have recently gained popularity in France, but they are also divisive due to their water usage during a historic drought.
The attempt to find unrecorded swimming pools is reportedly quite contentious, but not for the reasons you might anticipate, according to the French newspaper Le Parisien. Concerns have been raised over the use of American IT giant Google as a subcontractor for cloud processing on the project by Capgemini, a global IT company with its headquarters in Paris. Google and the French government have a protracted history of tax disagreements. Despite the controversy, DGFiP intends to implement the program nationally soon, generating an extra 40 million euros in tax income.
The authorities stated they will be able to recoup 5.7 million euros in back taxes and 4.1 million euros in taxes for 2022 as a result of the 20,356 unreported pools they discovered during the test period.
However, some unions that represent workers in public finance are leery of the novel strategy. They contest the system’s accuracy and express concern that the government will eliminate jobs and switch tax collectors and surveyors’ in-depth knowledge of their areas to desk work assessing the algorithms’ conclusions rather than their field work.
According to Philippe Laget, a union official with the General Confederation of Labor branch that represents public finance employees in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, the tool mixed up temporary pools that can be dismantled and are not taxable with permanently constructed pools, which are taxable. He asserted that the solution to these problems lies in direct communication with the taxpayers.
Growing calls to restrict or outright ban the use of private jets in France have already been made in response to increased concerns about pollution and energy conservation. Some also argue that France should regulate swimming pool use, despite the country’s extreme summer heat, as droughts and water restrictions become more frequent.