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Undeclared swimming pool detection system to be used across France

The system has resulted in €10million being collected in extra taxes during a trial in nine departments

An image of a swimming pool in a garden

An illegal swimming pool detection system powered by artificial intelligence is set to be rolled out across France Pic: OVKNHR / Shutterstock

An artificial intelligence system which enables authorities to detect illegal swimming pools is to be extended across France from September. 

The system has already been trialled over a year in nine departments, where around €10million extra has been collected in tax bills according to the Direction générale des finances publiques (DGFiP) government body.

Of these €10million, €5.7million came from taxe foncière owed from previous years, while €4.1million was for this year’s tax bill.

The DGFiP has also stated that 20,000 swimming pools have been discovered in the region since last year.

Having a swimming pool increases the valeur locative (theoretical rental value) of your property, which is used to work out your taxe foncière bill. 

A swimming pool will normally increase your tax bill by 10-30% unless you are subject to exemptions, but this amount depends on the area, as well as the size of the pool and its surroundings.

If you install a swimming pool, you have 90 days in which to declare it to the tax authorities. 

There is no reduction available for unused swimming pools. The only way to avoid paying taxe foncière on a pool is to fill it in and make it unusable.

Aerial images 

The authorities are using a system called ‘Foncier innovant’ – created through a partnership between French digital services company Capgemini and Google – to detect the presence of pools and other property additions and extensions through aerial images. 

It can then be determined if the pools spotted have been declared and are subject to the correct tax bills.

Anyone judged to have installed a pool without notifying the authorities is then sent a letter offering them the chance to explain.

Last September, the CGT Finances Publiques union in Bouches-du-Rhône expressed “worry” about the project, which can be carried out with fewer staff than are needed to realise in-person checks.

Related articles 

How much of our tax bill is due to having a swimming pool?

Water restrictions: Fines systematically issued in south-west France

Should France ban private swimming pool use amid drought crisis?

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