An unusual experiment has allowed French tax authorities to uncover thousands of undeclared swimming pools using artificial intelligence.
More than 20,000 hidden pools generated nearly $10 million in new revenue, according to the BBC. According to French law, adding a swimming pool to a house carries a higher property tax because it can increase its overall value.
In October 2021, an experimental experiment analyzed nine regions of France via aerial perspectives using software created by Google and the French company Capgemini. After their recent success, French authorities now say they plan to roll out this new software across the country.
“We are particularly targeting house extensions such as verandas,” Antoine Magnant, deputy director general of public finances, told French media. “But we need to be sure that the software can find buildings with a large footprint and not the kennel or the children’s playhouse.”
The French newspaper Le Parisien calculated that an average swimming pool measured at 322 square feet is taxed 200 euros per year. Additionally, there were around 3.2 million private swimming pools in the European state in 2020, with installations peaking at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The crackdown on undeclared ponds comes as France faces one of the worst droughts on record that has made drinking water unavailable in many parts of the country. The BBC notes that last month France experienced one of the driest months since 1961 with just 0.38 inches of rain.
Tax authorities think they can use the AI software to discover other house extensions to increase tax revenue, such as gazebos and pantos.