Science

State relies on AI to detect undeclared pools

While Google is regularly suspected of tax crime — and accepted a payment of almost one billion euros to the French state in 2019, for example — its tools can also be useful to the tax authorities. Thanks to the study of aerial photographs of an American company, the French administration is preparing to recover ten million euros from French taxpayers who allegedly did not declare their pool, according to Le Parisien, according to an upcoming report by the General Directorate of Public Finance. (Dgfip).

Bouches du Rhone at the Pole

Carried out in nine departments (Bouches-du-Rhone, Var, Alpes-Maritimes, Morbihan, Vendée, Maine-et-Loire, Rhône, Ardèche, Haute-Savoie) with digital consulting firm Capgemini, this experiment is based on software development , capable of performing mass processing of aerial photographs for their comparison with cadastral data. A kind of artificial intelligence in the service of the tax authorities, which led to the “discovery” of 20,356 unregistered pools after several months of adjustments to avoid, for example, equating disabled seats, blue background, with pools. According to the data collected by Dgfip, among the pilot departments, the department of Bouches-du-Rhone is the champion in undeclared basins with 7,244 irregular basins, followed by Var with 3,809 future regularizations. Satisfied with the results, Bercy announced that from September this method would be gradually extended to all departments in France and would generate a tax profit of 40 million euros by 2023.

A satisfaction that Philippe Lage, CGT public finance delegate from Bouches-du-Rhone, intends to temper. “We are not opposed to artificial intelligence and support tools such as aerial views, as long as they are used to work in the field,” explains a trade unionist who fears long-term suppression of a group of surveyors. “The management report indicated that 94% of the taxpayers who received the letter confirmed the taxability of their pools, but the letters were sent back in the summer, and complaints are starting to come in,” he reassures. He also points to relative “tax injustice” with a “reference model created in the 1970s”. Because by law, when a pool is in-ground, semi-in-ground, fixed or grounded or placed on a concrete slab and has an area of ​​more than 10 m², it is subject to taxation. “Outdated legislation that does not take into account the evolution of the market, for example, complete pools,” says Philippe Lage. “Less durable, they should be taxed less,” concludes the taxman.

A few more holes in the racket

In addition, for some municipalities the system seems to be less efficient. In the east of Marseille, for example, “the software detected only 30% of the built pools and was able to see the person sent to the field,” Philippe Lage says. Blame, as one might imagine, more wooded environments and more intimate pools. Finally, the software is based on the characteristic blues and greens of swimming pools, and you will soon see the appearance of yellow coatings.

According to a 2021 study commissioned by the Federation of Swimming Pool Professionals, there are about 3.2 million private pools in France, half of which are underground. A booming market: 86,000 in-ground pools were built in 2021, compared to 70,000 in 2020 and 55,000 in 2019. An expansion accompanied by relative democratization as 24.7% of in-ground basin owners are employees in 2021. or farmers, an increase of 10 points in four years. In this sociographic of underground pools, executives and business leaders make up 41.6%, followed by retirees (33.7%).

After all, aerial photographs can also replace cadastral data on the ground. With implications for residential areas, taxes are taken into account as long as the roofs have overhangs.

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