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Dublin: 4°C Sunday 11 April 2021

Revenue uses Google Earth to check up on tax evaders

Internet site could be very useful tool for Revenue Commissioners in their search for evidence of undeclared wealth.

A Google Street View car in Dublin last year.
A Google Street View car in Dublin last year.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

THE REVENUE SERVICE IS USING internet sites Google Earth and StreetView as tools to help it unveil tax evaders.

The sites could be used to scout out people who have undeclared wealth or illicit earnings by showing evidence of house extensions or swimming pools, according to the Sunday Independent.

Greek authorities used the Google site to crack down on tax evasion earlier this year, according to Der Spiegel.

Using satellite images from Google Earth, investigators were able to locate over 13,000 more swimming pools that had actually been reported. The Greek tax authorities also used police helicopters to fly around and record footage of affluent neighbourhoods.

Their investigations uncovered a high number of expensive luxury cars worth over €100,000 owned by people with a declared annual income of €10,000.

The Independent reports that Revenue sources have indicated that social media sites such as Facebook could also be used to probe cases of suspected undeclared income.

Earlier this summer, Silicon Republic reported that the Data Protection Commission of Ireland told Google to destroy Wi-Fi data controversially, but accidentally, collected by the internet company via its Street View project.

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