How France is using AI to find thousands of untaxed pools

How France is using AI to find thousands of untaxed pools

France is witnessing its worst drought in history as the country’s tax authorities are now using AI (Artificial Intelligence) to find thousands of undeclared swimming pools.

The country’s Federal authorities used software designed by Google and Capgemini, a consulting firm, to discover 20,356 former undisclosed pools since October 2021. 

AI software was used to analyze aerial images to identify the swimming pool boundaries, which are then compared to accessible and public property records.

So far, the AI software appears to be successful. On Monday, tax officials announced that the program would now be launched across the country.

The need for the AI System 

As stated, the French tax authorities aim to use AI to find undeclared home extensions, such as pergolas and verandas.

The officials claim that the algorithm was enhanced via machine learning as it was thoroughly tested, implying that it has a small error margin. 94% of taxpayers have also confirmed they have a taxable swimming pool due to the system.

Meanwhile, integrating aerial photography and AI has sparked some political debates in France. Unions that represent French tax collectors are opposing the effort. They fear it would “replace field work by tax collectors and surveyors”. 

They also question the system’s reliability and are concerned that surveyors and tax collectors with deep roots in the communities would be phased out for desk workers reviewing the algorithm’s output.

This AI for untaxed pool announcement comes following the present concerns about the drought in the country. Water restrictions are becoming more common. There’s also a rising call for energy conservation and the need to regulate swimming pool use despite the scorching temperatures.

French rules on swimming pool taxation

Because of the property value rise, swimming pools across France are now subject to taxation. Within 90 days of completing a swimming pool, the owner must file a tax report announcing the pool’s existence. 

The French government projected that executing the AI software nationwide would generate about $40 million in extra taxes in 2023.

The swimming pool demand rose during the pandemic when millions were forced to quarantine in their houses. This trend continued throughout the summer, as the continent experienced the hottest temperatures on record. 

According to France’s Federation of Pool and Spa Professionals, there are about 3.2 million residential swimming pools in the country, with more than 240,000 created in 2021 alone.

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