France Reveals Hidden AI Swimming Pools, Taxes Them

France Reveals Hidden AI Swimming Pools, Taxes Them

Using an artificial intelligence computer vision system developed by French IT firm Capgemini, the French tax office (commonly called “Le Fisc”) has identified 20,356 housing pools that had previously gone undisclosed. According to The Guardian, this has opened up 1[ads1]0 million euros in additional tax revenue, leading the government to tax other unspecified architectural features such as annexes or verandas.

To find undeclared basins, Capgemini’s software – with the help of Google’s cloud computing – automatically recognizes basins in aerial images (for example, by looking for blue rectangles) and compares the results with records in real estate and tax databases. If it finds that a relevant address does not have a pool registered, the owner is breaking the tax law. The program started in October last year on a limited basis, and covers only nine out of 96 metropolitan wards. At first, the system mistook solar panels for swimming pools with an error rate of 30 percent, but Le Fisc says it has since improved its accuracy.

The French government taxes property based on rental value, which increases when owners build additions or improvements such as swimming pools. For example, a swimming pool of 30 square meters will generate around 200 euros in additional taxes per year. Private pools have recently become more popular in France due to the recent heat wave, but they are also controversial due to their water consumption during a historic drought.

French newspaper The Parisian reports that the project to discover undocumented swimming pools is somewhat controversial, but not for the reasons you might expect. Capgemini, a multinational IT firm headquartered in Paris, has been criticized for using US tech giant Google as a cloud processing subcontractor on the project. Google has a long history of tax disputes with the French government. Controversy aside, Le Fisc plans to roll out the program nationwide soon, resulting in an estimated €40 million in additional tax revenue.

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