Google Earth threat has people rushing to pay tax

A mayor aims to boost taxe foncière payments after using Google Earth to spot undeclared or unauthorised swimming pools and other constructions in the commune.

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Alain Loriguet, of Thise in Doubs, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, said he had to find a way to boost revenue after cuts in state grants and aimed to ensure the commune received all the money it was due.

The idea came after hearing the mairie in Marmande in Lot-et-Garonne used Google Maps to spot more than 300 pools, summer houses and garages built and undeclared. It managed to reclaim €100,000 in unpaid taxe foncière.

Mr Loriguet said he told residents in his May bulletin that he planned the search and there was still time to pay up.

About 80 anomalies were spotted and he said about half the people got in touch quickly to declare works – the rest were being reported to the tax office.