Since October, French finance has raised more than 10 million euros in taxes and expects to add 40 more in the coming months.
France, like other countries, is experiencing a historic drought. For many, swimming pools are a refreshing relief from the heat – by the way, according to the latest figures, there are 3.2 million swimming pools in all of France. But with the increase in the number of pools, there are also more stringent checks from the authorities … and artificial intelligence.
Swimming pools are subject to value-added taxation on the property they are built into, so those that are not declared constitute tax evasion, which is currently being combated by an artificial intelligence system developed by the multinationals Google and Capgemini. From aerial photographs, artificial intelligence can detect what it interprets as the outlines of swimming pools on private property, and then compare that to the original database. After “blaming” artificial intelligence, the owners have 90 days to correct the situation.
Since the system was first used in October last year, some 20,356 undeclared pools have been discovered. The tax authorities have announced that they have recovered about 10 million euros in taxes from nine French regions, but they hope to raise another 40 million euros into the state treasury by 2023.
The next step “generalizesystem throughout France, although artificial intelligence is not always infallible. In some cases, the solar arrays read like swimming pools, in others it was impossible to recognize any structure covered with trees. Finance, praises the system and expresses its intention to apply it to other undeclared areas such as balconies and pergolas.
“But we have to make sure that software can find buildings with a large area, and not a dog house or a children’s playhouse, ”he warned.
Disputed basins on another issue – drought
With the devastating drought in France, private pools were already controversial for other reasons.
Several environmental associations have protested the use of the water for recreational purposes at a time when many French villages lack potable water dependent on the delivery of water from other parts of the country. Farmer groups have also warned that food shortages caused by the drought will be especially severe in the coming winter.
Ecology Europe Greens national secretary Julien Bayou sparked controversy when he said he would not object to a ban on private swimming pools if drought periods got worse and more frequent. Later on the social network Twitterclarified: “The goal is not to ban swimming pools, but to guarantee our basic water needs.”