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French tax authorities find 120,000 undeclared swimming pools

The Local France
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French tax authorities find 120,000 undeclared swimming pools
An employee works on the construction of a private swimming pool in France (Photo by FRANCOIS LO PRESTI / AFP)

In a rude awakening for those who failed to report their pool to French tax authorities, thousands of households will soon receive a letter from the tax man after aerial scans detected 120,000 undeclared private swimming pools.

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French tax authorities told Le Parisien on Friday that they had discovered more than 120,000 undeclared pools, in large part thanks to a new technology developed to help them scan swathes of land from above in order to detect the presence of pools.

The owners of the pools will be receiving a letter or email (if they have not already) from the Direction Générale des Finances Publiques (DGFiP) informing them that the pool must be declared.

If you install a pool at your French property you must tell tax authorities - as this increases the taxable value of your property. 

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Anyone who receives the letter will have 30 days to declare the pool, which can be done online at the tax office website - head to your personal space and click the "Biens immobiliers" tab. You will need to fill out information about the pool, including when it was completed, its surface area and other relevant characteristics. 

However, if you believe there has been a mistake, then you can contest by walking into your local tax office and asking for assistance. You can also try calling the English-language hotline at + 33 1 72 95 20 42, although it doesn't appear to have a huge staff, so expect long waits at peak times like income tax declaration season. 

In France, swimming pools that cannot be easily moved without demolition (ie a permanent structure) and that are greater than 10m2 in size, should be declared to tax authorities within 90 days of their construction. This includes above-ground pools if they cannot be moved without dismantling, like wooden ones for instance.

As with all failures to provide information to the tax office, you risk a fine if you do not declare a pool.

READ MORE: Everything you need know about installing a swimming pool at your French property

Property owners also have to complete France's new property tax declaration, which is due June 30th. Learn more about the French property tax declaration and how to fill it out.

When filling out the information, pools and outbulidings are listed separately. If you have a pool, this might mean you will have two entries under your name: your property and your pool. This is normal - and pools are always listed separately as you have to pay extra tax on them - but you only need to make one declaration.

The crackdown on swimming pools

France has the highest number of private pools in Europe – in May 2023 there was one private swimming pool for every 20 people, bringing the tally up to 3.4 million piscines privées across the country.

READ MORE: The champion of Europe: Why France has so many private swimming pools

In order to make sure that these millions of pools are properly counted, tax authorities have developed an artificial intelligence software alongside Cap Gemini to use aerial views such as Google maps in order to detect any anomalies (undeclared swimming pools), which are then checked and verified by tax authorities.

In October 2021, the technology was tested in nine départements, and it found over 20,000 swimming pools, which led to almost €10 million in extra tax revenue for the state.

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Tax authorities have said they plan to expand use of the technology in the future to track down extensions and outbuildings that were also constructed without planning permission or declaration to the DGFiP.

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Comments (1)

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Kyras 2023/06/09 13:07
FYI the software isn't called cap gemini, that's the consulting firm that helped develop it.

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