French financial authorities will turn to social media in a bid to identify individuals who engage in tax avoidance practices as early as 2019, according to French Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin in an interview earlier this month.
Identify potential fraud
The country’s financial administration will look to see whether 'you have numerous pictures of yourself with a luxury car while you don't have means to own one…maybe your cousin or your girlfriend has lent it to you…or maybe not,' according to Mr Darmanin. The move to identify potential frauds by analysing publicly available data accessible through individuals’ social media accounts is in line with a tax law enacted in October by the French Parliament, which was 'designed to strengthen authorities’ capacities to fight tax fraud and permit a wider use of online data to bolster fiscal controls,' according to Reuters.
The bill will increase existing penalties for tax evasion in France, including upping to two times the penalties on proceeds resulting from the fraud. There will be a new ‘fiscal police’ established within the Budget Ministry which will work with members of the Interior Ministry in looking into tax avoidance schemes. Expected to result in an increased number of tax fraud criminal prosecutions according to law firm Debevoise & Plimpton, the bill is in line with broader legal and policy-related discussions regarding law enforcement usage of social media to monitor and track individuals.