the tax authorities would like to go further on social networks

“Close your Facebook accounts, quit Instagram, stop trading on Leboncoin, or renting your apartment on Airbnb… the taxman is spying on you”. In early 2021, the law authorizing the DGFIP for three years to massively collect taxpayer data on social networks, with a view to spotting fraudsters, caused a lot of noise, sparking fantasies and rumours. Two years later, what is the outcome of this experiment?

A very careful legislator

Deputy director of tax audit, Stéphane Créange struggles to hide a certain disappointment. “The legislator has been very cautious, which limits the possibilities of exploiting the data”, he euphemizes. In accordance with the opinion of the CNIL, the extraction of data has been strictly regulated: only sites that do not require registration with a password can be analyzed, and this only with a view to demonstrating the existence of an activity. occult or false domiciliation abroad.

For a little over a year, the digital data analysis unit has therefore been carrying out experiments, simulating millions of searches on sites like Leboncoin. After extracting the information, the software cleans it to keep only those necessary for the identification of Internet users (telephone number, email address, etc.). “In case of suspicion of fraud, an agent takes over to enrich the file and decide to send it to control”, specifies Stéphane Créange.

A parliamentary report

The great classic? The individual selling dozens of cars, without declared activity. But for the occult activity to be characterized, the merchant must not have any valid Siren number, which limits the field of investigation of the tax authorities. “This means that someone who understates their activity cannot be identified in the context of data analysis”, regrets Stéphane Créange. As for the false domiciliation, it is also difficult to establish, the tax authorities not being authorized to extract data from password networks, such as Instagram or Facebook.

A report is soon to be submitted to parliamentarians, who should not fail to point out these limits. Will MPs allow tax sleuths to go further? Nothing is less sure. Recently, the association La Quadrature du Net (1) asked the Council of State to seize the Court of Justice of the European Union on this practice deemed to be an invasion of privacy.

Until then, nothing prevents a tax auditor from browsing your Facebook or Instagram profiles to spot a few anomalies in an artisanal way. Tax expert in Paris, Arnaud Tailfer recently saw one of his clients get caught after selling a Porsche for €80,000 on Leboncoin without declaring any income. In a case like that, the taxman assures him: it is not a robot, but a human who should have him in the sights.

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