To find undisclosed swimming pools, verandas, parking lots or tennis courts, French tax authorities prefer to rely on satellite images provided by Google. But this alliance raises criticism
Will Google be used as a spy for French tax authorities? According to “St. Duck”, Percy has teamed up with giant Google to identify items not reported to tax authorities through the Google Maps mapping service. This is especially true of paying property tax or housing tax on swimming pools, porches, car parks or tennis courts. By comparing the satellite images provided by the US company with the owners ’announcements, an algorithm can detect fraud.
If the images do not match the statements of the individuals, an automatic report will be sent to the tax authorities for review. The idea of detecting fraudsters using satellite images has already been tested, especially in swimming pools in Greece during the financial crisis. Experiments have been carried out in Lot-et-Coron in France in recent years.
In 2017, aerial photographs with cadastral information of individuals revealed that a third of the 800 swimming pools in the city of Marmont were not reported. According to the municipality, this means the production of an additional tax of 100,000 euros on property tax. The addition of a swimming pool or other building significantly increases taxpayers’ property and housing taxes, which is not too low for French public funds.
What data was collected?
The algorithm, set up with Google, is already in the deployment phase in 13 French departments, including Bouches-du-Rhône, Alpes-Maritimes, Ardèche and Maine-et-Loire. Generalization is planned for all departments. The project is being promoted by the European Union, which has allocated funds for the development of a computer system based on artificial intelligence to combat tax evasion. Nationally, this project “ Innovative land “Further” from the high use of aerial footage to the use of innovative artificial intelligence and large data technologies for better reliability of local direct taxation bases “.
But the alliance of French tax authorities with the digital company Google has been criticized because it raises a number of ethical questions. First, the company was accused of tax fraud in 2019. A Paris court has ruled in favor of imposing a 500 500 million fine on Google for “fraudulent tax fraud” and “fraudulent money laundering in an organized group. Fraudulent tax”.
The unions are amazed at the data collected by Google, even though the public company has promised the US company that it will “not be able to access cadastral data at any time” and “process the images.” The CFDT has demanded greater transparency in the plan and is concerned about the impact of the use of artificial intelligence on workers in public funds.