The tax authorities will track down undeclared swimming pools using satellite images

The tax authorities will track down undeclared swimming pools using satellite images
The tax authorities will track down undeclared swimming pools using satellite images

The project aroused “concern” from union officials at Bercy.

(illustration) (AFP / GERARD JULIEN)

“Innovative land tenure”. This is the name of the new project set up by the tax administration to flush out potentially taxable undeclared extensions and equipment using artificial intelligence. This partnership was developed with Google.

In collaboration with the consulting firm Capgemini, the American digital giant has developed software capable of automatically detecting taxable goods (extension of a building, swimming pool, etc.) thanks to artificial intelligence, via aerial photographs .

This project, the cost of which should exceed 12 million euros, is in the experimental phase in 9 departments, d have Bouches-du-Rhône, Alpes-Maritimes, Var and Maine-et-Loire .

The objective is to detect undeclared buildings or which have passed under tax radar and update the computerized cadastral plan “with a minimum of human intervention”, according to an internal document consulted by AFP.

A way to track down fraudsters but above all “to save money”, denounced Claire Sarrail, land surveyor: “At the Directorate General of Public Finances (DGFIP), in 20 years, we have lost more than 30% of the workforce” , she explains to AFP, “and therefore the solution, rather than recruiting, it is to call on Google”, explains this national elected of the CGT Finances Publiques.

“Taxation d’office”

“We are pushing the dehumanization of the public service to the limit,” explains Philippe Laget, departmental co-secretary of the CGT Public Finances 13, who does not want a “low-cost public administration” delegating its services to “private providers”. “Artificial intelligence is not going to make it possible to do better quality work” estimates Frédéric Busson, also a land surveyor: “On the contrary, what it will produce is a degraded plan on the technical level and incorrect tax information. ”

According to him, aerial views are not precise enough to judge a property, whether it is a swimming pool or a building, and could lead to errors in the tax bases, in particular concerning local taxes and property tax. The agents also warn against a desire to create an “automatic taxation”, without travel on the ground beforehand, which would be prejudicial to the taxpayers.

The CGT has announced its intention to challenge local elected officials to request a parliamentary inquiry into the project and the choice of Google as a subcontractor, while the American company is singled out for its tax practices but also its treatment of personal data. In 2019, the American digital giant was fined one billion euros for tax evasion by the Paris court.

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