Tax fraud. Learning AI monitors thousands of taxable but undeclared pools

By cross-checking various topographical data with that of the tax services, the public finance departments of Languedoc-Roussillon were able to identify thousands of private swimming pools potentially evading property tax, with hundreds of thousands of euros at stake. Hérault is exactly the championship division when it comes to pool construction.

According to the 2024 report on combating social, tax and customs fraud, presented by the government on 20 March 2024, the number of undeclared swimming pools detected by the tax authorities in the previous year amounted to 140,000, which allowed the state to recover 40 million in real estate tax. Private pools are taxed from the moment they are specified and exceed 10 m².

To identify pools that are potentially not subject to local direct taxes, government agencies have mainly used artificial intelligence (AI)-based algorithms associated with the use of aerial photographs by IGN (National Institute of Geographic and Forest Information). tax databases of the DGFiP (Directorate General of Public Finance). The experimentation of the system, entitled “Innovative Land”, began in October 2021 in nine test sections, before expanding in 2023 to the entire territory, including Occitanie.

“In addition to going through the CapGemini company for project management, we also use Google data, but in a very precise order so as not to collect anything confidentialassures Olivier Caritg, head of the private sector, responsible in particular for tax and land matters in the Hérault. Depending on the vintage of the photo, you can even tax it for several years depending on the date the pool appeared. That's how we do the tracking and sorting out.”

This AI learns, at first it tended to mistake blue tarps for swimming pools or recognize inflatable pools, and then it corrected itself.

Olivier Caritg, responsible for personal taxation in Hérault

With 27 private swimming pools per 1,000 people in 2023, France is currently the European country with the most swimming pools per capita, ahead of Spain. Thus, aOn the Côte d'Azur, Languedoc-Roussillon leads the regions with the most building permits for private swimming pools between 2017 and 2022, with Hérault holding the record among French regions with 4,367 swimming pools built during this period.

This is the first year that this type of operation has been carried out in the department. “This made it possible to identify 7,200 pools, of which 5,000 were recognized by our inspectors as not actually being taxed. explains the head of the Departmental Directorate of Public Finances of Hérault. Interested owners are notified and have thirty days to submit a land declaration or an automatic assessment will be made. It's not about a fine, it's about compensation.”

We are not necessarily talking about fraud, sometimes it is a simple oversight by the owner of the pool in question or a statement made twice during the construction of a house, for reasons of administrative simplicity.

Olivier Caritg, responsible for personal taxation in Hérault

The recoverable amount is estimated by the general management to be between €800,000 and €900,000. Final results, as trials are underway to extend Land's innovative project to spot terraces, which are also taxed. However, at this stage it is not foreseen that such operations will take place every year.

For comparison, the Pyrénées-Orientales maintained, thanks to the same technologies and after analysis, 1114 non-taxable swimming pools. “Assuming an average annual tax amount for a swimming pool between 150 and 200 euros […]the total impact for the department is estimated at €300,000”says Alexis Nou, communications officer for the department's DDFiP.

Hérault and Pyrénées-Orientales are among the departments most affected by the drought in recent years, to the point where prefectural decrees are regularly passed to limit water use by the population. These mainly prohibit the filling of pools during periods of fishing pressure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *