France Discovered a Man’s Swimming Pool Using a Satellite. Then, As Many Countries Do, It Taxed Him

In some countries, including France, Spain, and the U.S., private pools are subject to property taxes. The land office is in charge of finding them.

No comments Twitter Flipboard E-mail

Faced with increasingly hot summers, many people seek relief by diving into a swimming pool, even one that's above-ground. However, installing these pools in your garden or terrace can potentially cause problems and land you with a hefty tax bill.

Daniel and his above-ground pool. Last summer, Daniel, a Frenchman living in the northern part of Paris, invested in a new 33-foot long, 16-foot wide, and 4-foot deep above-ground pool for his garden. The pool has a capacity of more than 14,300 gallons of water, making it a substantial addition to his property.

The plan was to install it on a concrete base in the garden, usually used to store firewood in winter, to insulate it from humidity. Daniel intended to dismantle the pool at the end of the summer and store it in the garage until the summer of 2024.

A swimming pool in a legal gray area. Daniel found out that he needed to register any new constructions that could raise his property’s value according to the French land policy, similar to the Property Tax in the U.S.

However, after seeking advice from his town hall and several accountants specializing in this area, Daniel chose a pool model that met the regulations for being considered a movable property, meaning it could be moved or disassembled, and wouldn’t increase the property’s value like a permanent or prefabricated pool would.

A notice from the tax office. Daniel received a notice from the French land authorities stating that its automated system had detected his undeclared swimming pool and he needed to register it, which would increase his property taxes.

Despite believing he was following the law, Daniel’s pool fell into a legal gray area, and only an arbitration body could decide if it would affect his property tax bill, upsetting his summer plans.

Aerial cadasters. Many countries use satellite images and drones to identify new buildings and undeclared swimming pools from the air. This method helps to locate new constructions within courtyards and gardens, which would be difficult to detect otherwise.

However, this aerial detection system isn’t foolproof and can lead to errors. For example, it may confuse a large above-ground swimming pool with an in-ground one. In the end, it's best to think twice and pay for legal advice before you install your new pool to escape the summer heat—unless you want to risk feeling the pain in tax season.

Image | Shelbey Hunt

Related | Iceland Is So Tired of Tourism That It Has Adopted a Drastic Measure: Taxing Its Visitors

Home o Index