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Pool police

Of Marmande's 800 swimming pools, 300 were undeclared and illegal. Copyright David LezcanoThe local tax authority in Marmande in south western France has come up with a novel technique of locating undeclared and illegal private swimming pools in the commune: surveillance via Google Earth. For officials in the small town, which has a population of around 18,000, the laborious task has paid off. Over 100,000€ has been collected by the services fiscaux in the last 24 months.

By combing through Google Earth images of the town and comparing them with residents’ tax declarations from 2015, officials in Marmande, which is found in the Lot-et-Garonne region, tracked down 800 swimming pools in total - 300 of which were illegal and undeclared by their owners.

Fines were issued to all undeclared pool owners, raising a whopping 100,000€. 

“It’s an enormous [amount],” the town’s finance deputy Josette Jacquet has told the regional newspaper Sud Ouest, “we had no idea how much money would be raised.”

“It’s a question of tax fairness,” she continued. “It’s not fair that some are paying and others aren’t.”

No retroactive payments have been requested and the pools in the commune are now legally registered. It is obligatory in France to declare that you have a swimming pool on your property.