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How France’s tax inspectors use technology to track fraud and evasion

The use of Google satellite images to spot undeclared pools is just one way in which IT is being used

Satellites can also be used to check extensions, garages and other unexplained buildings that do not match tax service declarations Pic: Artsiom P / Shutterstock

Tax inspectors regularly use technology to find fraudsters and tax dodgers, a report on the activity of the Finance Ministry shows. 

One element is the recent use of Google satellites in certain areas to track unregistered pools. 

The ministry expects €40million to be recovered from this, once the whole country has been checked. 

The system can also be used to check extensions, garages and other unexplained buildings that do not match tax service declarations, though it has been found to be harder to analyse these. 

Pools should be declared to the tax office within 90 days of completion. 

This will add to the property value used to work out bills for taxe foncière (and taxe d’habitation if it is a second home). 

Other ways inspectors use technology include: 

  • ‘Robot trackers’ (automatic web-searching programmes) of property transactions. 

  • These match details with tax declarations to see if people have not declared for IFI property wealth tax, or have under-declared property values; 

  • Use of data in the Gérer mes biens immobiliers service, which allows landlords to see all their properties linked to their online tax account (but can also help inspectors check correct declarations for IFI, or of rents); 

  • Looking at public social media posts, eg. to check if someone’s lifestyle is unusually luxurious.

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