Irish tax authorities using Google to snoop for swimming pools
Google Earth and StreetView are the latest tools to be used against tax evaders by the Republic's Revenue Commissioners snooping to find evidence of undeclared wealth or illicit earnings.
The satellite and street view images may be used to provide evidence of major home extensions, swimming pools or other assets that could indicate wealth above the levels indicated by a person's tax returns.
With tax returns having fallen off a cliff, the Irish Revenue Commissioners are under increasing pressure to squeeze every last cent owed by taxpayers.
Tax collected by the Republic has fallen from €47.3bn in 2007 down to less than €30bn forecast for this year. Revenue sources have indicated that a variety of tools including Google Earth and social media sites such as Facebook could be used to probe individual cases during an investigation of undeclared income.
The use of Google Earth as a wealth-snooping tool was pioneered by the Greek tax authorities in the wake of the EU/IMF bailout of the country.
Greek investigators used the satellite imagery to pinpoint swimming pools in the back gardens of people claiming welfare.