It is a little-known tool available to tax and customs officials since… 2020. Article 154 of the 2020 Finance Law stipulates that services can “ collect and use by means of computerized and automated processing […] the content, freely accessible on the websites of online platform operators […] clearly made public », for the purpose of research and the fight against fraud.
Concretely, the Tax Department and customs can since 2020, and “on an experimental basis” scan your Facebook and Twitter photos, as well as your sales on Le Bon Coin, in order to check whether you are declaring everything correctly – and that your lifestyle does not is not inconsistent with what you state. This may include, for example, a fictitious domiciliation, or an undeclared swimming pool.
Beware, tax and customs officers are also looking at your vacation photos
Beyond that, customs can also sanction Internet users who engage in illegal online businesses such as the sale of tobacco or drugs – based on what is posted online and which is publicly accessible. The measure has caused many teeth to cringe since the start of the experiment, which led the Quadrature du Net association to seize the Council of State in 2021 in the hope of having the text censored.
But here it is, on July 22, 2022, the Council of State chose to decide in favor of the government. In other words to perpetuate the device which is already used by Bercy and customs. Therefore, it is likely that this experiment will become permanent in a future Finance Law. The opportunity to come back to a very important point during the holiday period: the photos you post on social networks.
Be careful, indeed, because flaunting your private life in this way can potentially lead to costly confusion with the authorities – even if you are not actually a fraudster. To avoid the slightest risk in this phase when the authorities are already beginning to go through Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, we must remember a few questions that certainly do not escape the agents.
The first is that all the photos you take include metadata, which among other things allows you to verify the date, and often the precise location of the image. Taking (and above all publishing) photos that are too often located in a different place from your tax domicile can, for example, lead the authorities to think that they are faced with a case of fictitious tax domicile.
Read also – The tax authorities have a formidable new weapon against fraudsters
In the same way, being displayed too often next to luxury cars can induce agents to check whether the lifestyle you display is in line with your statement…