Will ‘les drones’ join satellites in unmasking French tax cheats?

The success of a new satellite-based campaign to ferret out French homeowners shirking tax liabilities by failing to declare property improvements will determine whether a thus far rock-solid ban on using lower-altitude drones to peek in on the affairs of private citizens is added to that mix of snooping tools. That’s a potentially explosive possibility in a nation where the priority of protect one’s privacy is second only to dodging tax authorities.

This month marked the opening of operation foncier innovant (roughly, “innovative real estate”), a push by an array of French tax and fiscal authorities to identify and put the pinch on people who’ve failed to declare taxable property improvements. Those may include swimming pools, house extensions, garages, or – for those riche enough ­– tennis courts and heliports. This being France, even modestly size garden sheds and DIY verandas are subject to stiff taxation. 

This being France, however,…