Published: August 31, 2022
An artificial intelligence experiment in France discovered over 20,000 hidden pools. Swimming pools increase property taxes since they raise the property’s value; therefore, French law requires owners to declare it.
An average pool of 30 square meters (322 square feet) is taxed €200 (£170)annually. According to the data site, Statista, there were over 3.2 million private pools in 2020, with pool installations booming even before the pandemic.
However, as more people started working from home, there was an increase in sales. The thousands of hidden private pools have given French tax authorities a sudden windfall since some estimates show they’ve made around €10 million (£8.5m) in revenue.
During a trial in 2021, the French consulting company Capgemini and Google developed AI software that detected the private pools on aerial images.
They were uncovered in nine trial regions, including, Alpes-Maritimes, Ardèche, RhôneBouches-du-Rhône, Var, Haute-Savoie, Maine-et-Loire, Morbihan, and Vendée. But tax officials believe they are ready to roll out nationwide.
According to the tax authorities, they could use the same software in the future to find undeclared extensions, like gazebos, patios, or verandas, which also contribute to property taxes.
The deputy director general of public finances, Antoine Magnant, says they want to ensure that the software can find buildings with a large footprint and not just house extensions.
France is dealing with its worst drought, which has left over 100 municipalities short of clean water. According to the French national weather service, France had 9.7mm of rain in July, making it the driest month since 1961.
Irrigation has been prohibited in some parts of France’s Southeast and Northwest areas to help preserve water. However, Julien Bayou of France’s Europe-Ecology Greens party said that a ban on new pools wasn’t ruled out.
He stated that France needs to do something regarding water needs and that banning private pools would be a final course of action.