Tax authorities in France have recovered €5.6billion in unpaid taxes since January, officials have revealed.
The figure is a 40% increase on the €4billion recovered over the same period in 2018, Minister of Public Accounts Gérald Darmanin said. A large part of the windfall for state coffers has come from a €945million settlement between the government and internet giant Google over tax fraud allegations dating back several years.
Tax evasion cost the French government an estimated €80billion to €100billion in 2017, according to Solidaires Finances Publiques, the largest union representing France’s tax authorities.
According to Europe 1, the tax authorities have recovered €640 million through data mining – a technique, which involves automated processing and cross-referencing of taxpayer data, has been effective since 2014.
The government wants to go further. The draft finance bill for 2020 includes provision for authorising the administration to collect information from social networks such as Facebook or Twitter, and online sales sites such as Le Bon Coin
The plan has prompted concern, from civil liberties watchdog Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés, which warned in written advice to the government that authorities must show “a great deal of prudence” over the plan, which raised “unprecedented questions over personal data protection”.
The Ministry of Finance has promised that “public data collected will be destroyed within 30 days if it is not likely to contribute to the identification of serious breaches or within one year if they have not given rise to the opening of any tax, customs or criminal proceedings”.