France uses Google AI to spot 20,000 undeclared swimming pools

30 Aug 2022

Image: © Adhivaswut/

After finding more than 20,000 undeclared pools, French authorities plan to roll the system out nationwide and could use it to spot other property enhancements.

The power of artificial intelligence is now being used to crack down on unpaid taxes in France.

French tax authorities used AI to find thousands of undeclared swimming pools on properties, billing the owners a combined total of roughly €10m.

Pools can boost the value of a property and must be declared under French law as they can lead to higher property taxes. French news publication The Connexion said a swimming pool can increase a property tax bill by up to 30pc.

French authorities began an experiment last year using an AI system developed by Google and tech services firm Capgemini, according to local media reports. This AI is able to identify pools from aerial images and compare the information with land registry databases.

Nine French departments were able to uncover more than 20,000 undeclared swimming pools using this technology.

There were 3.2m private swimming pools in France in 2020, according to Statista. The number of pools being constructed in the country rose by 30pc last year, The Connexion reported.

Following the success of the trial, France’s tax office now plans to extend this AI system nationwide and it could reap €40m in new taxes next year.

The scope of the software could also be expanded to spot other undeclared property enhancements such as annexes or extensions.

Deputy director general of public finances Antoine Magnant told Le Parisien that they are “particularly targeting house extensions like verandas”.

“But we have to be sure that the software can find buildings with a large footprint and not the dog kennel or the children’s playhouse.”

AI is “without any doubt” the new fuel for the modern economy, according to John Clancy from Ireland’s Enterprise Digital Advisory Forum, with the potential to disrupt and transform almost every industry and business sector.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic