The Court of Auditors urges the executive to quantify tax fraud

The figure regularly ignites political debates, but to date remains impossible to confirm or deny, the Court of Auditors is ured. The amount of tax fraud, estimated between 60 and 80 billion euros per year (up to 100 billion according to figures from the Solidaires Finances publique union), inseparable from the subject of consent to tax, must urgently be estimated by the government, press a report from the financial institution. Entitled “The detection of tax fraud by individuals” and not relating to companies, this work of around a hundred pages immediately deplores: “Unlike many countries, France does not have any rigorous essment of tax fraud. »

Taxes levied on individuals – income tax, real estate wealth tax (successor to the ISF since 2018), inheritance tax, property tax and even housing tax – brought in more than 160 billion euros in 2022, or 30% of tax revenue (State and communities combined), indicates the report. But France does not carry out checks on the basis of random samples, which makes it impossible to statistically deduce an overall amount of fraud from the sums recovered. The only known amount is that claimed by the tax authorities after inspection, i.e., all tax fraud combined, 14.6 billion euros in 2022 (1.2 billion more than in 2021).

Since the 2010s, notes the Court, the tax administration has certainly experienced a “silent revolution” by moving from a logic of control of the largest taxpayers to data cross-referencing techniques (data mining) and increased use of tax information (reports from judicial services, police, etc.). The most publicized tool by Bercy has notably been the identification, over the past two years, of more than 120,000 undeclared swimming pools using land detection software.

Problem: in one case as in the other, the tax audit obeys more a logic of return, aimed at filling the State coffers, than a concern for precise evaluation of the amounts defrauded. And since, depending on the countries that practice it, the estimate of tax evasion ranges from 4.5% (in Estonia) to 16.6% (in the United States) of the sums involved, it is impossible to draw conclusions from it. a conclusion for France.

We would end up with “an extremely wide range since between 30 and 100 billion euros all taxes combined, or between 7 and 27 billion for personal taxes alone”, calculates the Court. There is no way to know how much fraud is actually intercepted by the tax authorities, “and if this proportion has increased in recent years with the implementation of more powerful tools”, regularly praised by Bercy.

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