France collects millions in taxes using AI to find undeclared swimming pools

Software developed by Google and Capgemini will be introduced nationwide after lucrative trial

Because swimming pools boost property values, they usually lead to higher property and residency taxes. Getty Images
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French tax authorities have collected millions of euros after using AI to detect undeclared swimming pools.

Developed by Google and Capgemini, the AI software learnt how to spot pools on aerial images of nine French departments on a trial run last year, which were then cross-checked with land registry databases.

Since pools boost property values, they usually lead to higher property and residency taxes unless the owner fails to notify authorities.

Private pool sales had already been booming in France before the Covid pandemic, which led to a surge in installations as millions of employees began working from home more often.

According to Le Parisien newspaper, which reported the results of the AI test, an average pool of 30 square metres would be taxed at €200 ($200) a year.

In the nine test departments, the software detected more than 20,000 pools, which led to the collection of about €10 million in tax last year.

The DGFiP public finances authority said the programme would now be introduced nationwide, potentially leading to €40m in new levies in 2023.

It could also eventually be used to find undeclared home extensions, patios or gazebos, which are also used to factor property taxes, the authority said.

Updated: August 30, 2022, 12:23 PM