Using an artificial intelligence computer vision system developed by a French IT company Capgeminithe French tax office (often “Le Fish‘) has identified 20,356 private swimming pools that were previously unreported The guardthis has unlocked €10 million in additional tax revenue, leading the government to tax other undeclared architectural features such as outbuildings or porches.
To find undeclared pools, Capgemini’s software — using Google’s cloud processing — automatically detects pools in aerial imagery (e.g. by looking for blue rectangles) and compares the results to entries in real estate and tax databases. If it finds that no pool is registered for a relevant address, the owner is in breach of tax law. The program began last October on a limited basis covering only nine out of 96 major city departments. First, the system mistook solar panels for swimming pools with an error rate of 30 percent, but Le Fisc says it’s since increased accuracy.
The French government taxes properties based on their rental value, which increases when owners build additions or improvements like swimming pools. For example, a 30 square meter swimming pool generates around €200 in additional taxes per year. Private pools have recently become more popular in France due to the recent heat wave, but they are also controversial because of their water consumption during a summer historical drought.
French newspaper Le Parisien reports that the Undocumented Pools Discovery project is somewhat controversial, but not for the reasons you might expect. Capgemini, a multinational IT company headquartered in Paris, has come under fire for using American tech giant Google as its cloud processing subcontractor for the project. Google has a long lifespan History of Tax Disputes with the French government. Controversy aside, Le Fisc plans to roll out the scheme nationwide soon, which will result in an estimated €40 million in additional tax revenue.
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