France uses Capgemini/Google AI to identify undeclared swimming pools, netting nearly $14 million from undeclared taxes

Originally published at: France uses Capgemini/Google AI to identify undeclared swimming pools, netting nearly $14 million from undeclared taxes | Boing Boing


Companies have long offered satellite imagery to governments specifically for finding untaxed property improvements. The difference here is that they are using an machine-learning model to do the pattern matches.


I wonder how they assess the value of the pools. Is it purely a function of size? Not all pools are equally extravagant. (I recently visited the pools at Hearst Castle)


One of the articles in the post had this morsel of info:

The French government taxes real estate based on its rental value, which increases when owners build additions or improvements such as swimming pools. For example, a 30 square meter swimming pool will result in around 200 euros of extra taxes per year. Private pools have lately become more popular in France due to the recent heat wave, but they’re also controversial due to their water usage during a historic drought.


Time to pull the ol’ Cheech and Chong camouflage trick - but in reverse: swim - YouTube


200 Euro seems like such a negligible amount compared to the upkeep of a swimming pool. The things people do… :man_shrugging:


This was the trial run first year results that were good enough for prime time. They are opening the scope from 9 regions to all 26 regions of France, and looking at patio sizes too.

In the French movie that I referenced at the end of the post, the tax assessor was looking for paint discoloration on walls to see if someone had recently moved paintings to hide them, and other ways to see if tax evasion was going on.

Right? There’s no pool here, just some sticky-icky!!! ^___^


I know this is France, not the US, but would this be considered an illegal search?

If I recall in the US some years ago cops were driving around with FLIR cameras looking for excessive heat which could undicate a clandestine grow-operation. They were tossed as being illegal searches, the logic being that Infrared doesn’t count as “being visible”

I imagine in many cases yhese pools would not be visible from the street, and only visible via Satellite. It wouldn’t seem to count as being “in plain sight” even if published to a public-facing imagery site such as Google Earth

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There’s not widespread consensus on the legality but it is controversial.

In 2010 the city of Riverhead, NY basically did this exact same thing to find unpermitted pools, then reversed the policy due to public backlash:

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When I was working as a FEMA map analyst for First American, we used as many photo mapping sites as we could in determining where structures lay on property. Again, not France, but it was standard practice to make sure “borderline” certifications were honest.

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