Aude: Solidaires Finances Publiques points out the limits and perverse effects of artificial intelligence to detect untaxed swimming pools

The “Innovative Land” system, tested by the General Directorate of Public Finances in nine departments to detect swimming pools and undeclared buildings, is generalized to the whole territory, including Aude. Where 3,400 swimming pools would come under the system. A conditional underlined by Solidaires Finances Publiques by pointing to major rates of anomalies. And by raising the threats that the device would run on land surveyors, precious cogs in the establishment of property taxes.

In August 2022, the Directorate General of Public Finance (DGFiP) delivered a flamboyant assessment of the experimentation of the “Innovative Land” system. Deployed in nine departments, the combination of IGN aerial views and an artificial intelligence algorithm aimed to detect non-imposed swimming pools. At stake, “more than 20,000 swimming pools” undeclared detected, “94% of owners” having confirmed their taxable nature, and “nearly €10 million in additional revenue for the municipalities concerned”. What to decide the DGFiP, in search “equity and social justice”, to generalize the system to the whole territory in 2n/a half of 2022, projecting for 2023 nearly €40 million in local direct tax gains.

A turn that, in the Aude, Solidaires Finances Publiques considers premature. Not on principle, ensures Frédéric Faure, its co-secretary: “But we are generalizing a technique that is not yet effective.” On the side of Solidaires, which points in passing to the choice of entrusting Google – “an example in terms of taxation” data storage, the returns are far from the “very positive” 94% of the DGFiP. “In the Var (a test department, Editor’s note)we have anomalies up to 30%specifies Christian Bombail, elected Solidarity on the local technical committee of the departmental direction of public finances of Aude and surveyor-cadastreur (there are seven in Aude, Editor’s note). The AI ​​detected above-ground, non-taxable pools, but also retained “ghost elements”, such as color variations on the bitumen, or even tarpaulins.

The AI ​​has no memory, the agents, if

If the project, in its final phase, provides for the automatic sending of letters to the owners at fault, it is for the time being first of all the surveyors of the cadastre who are responsible for verifying “by eye, on document, or by going on site” these frauds or unfortunate omissions. Task carried out in Carcassonne: “Of 40 so-called non-imposed pools, 20 were AI errors.” Low success rate, factor of interrogations on the 3,400 swimming pools detected to be treated on the scale of Aude. Especially since, Christian Bombail reminds us, “AI’s photographic coverage will be every three years. It is exactly at the same frequency that the surveyors tour the municipalities.” And to plan for the next stage of “Innovative Land”, on buildings, currently being tested: “In 80% of cases, this detects cases that do not correspond to tax criteria (especially on agricultural buildings, Editor’s note). We know very well, by looking at the cadastre, if a building is taxable. Reference to a very human asset: “AI has no memory, agents do.”

One more argument to oppose the logical and dreaded sequence. “The counterpart of all this, continues Frédéric Faure, it is that the DGFiP estimated the reduction in staff at 300 agents, mainly land surveyors. Agents who, underlines the trade unionist, “are the last category present on the field on a daily basis”. And which, in addition to the cadastral plans and reorganizations carried out, assume a major mission: to update the land data and establish the cadastral rental values ​​allowing the calculation of the tax bases of the built and unbuilt properties. Major, does not hesitate to recall Frédéric Faure, for communities “deprived of council tax”. What to plead with them for deliberations “opposing a harmful project”. By recalling that, if land surveyors were to disappear, “Communities will have to resort to private service providers”.

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Aude: Solidaires Finances Publiques points out the limits and perverse effects of artificial intelligence to detect untaxed swimming pools


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