Spain’s tax office has discovered 1.69 million homes that have failed to pay adequate taxes thanks to an extensive air operation using satellites and drones.
The unmanned aerial vehicles revealed improvements to people’s houses that they had failed to declare to the tax office, such as extensions and swimming pools.
The drone and satellite search was conducted across 4,340 Spanish municipalities, according to a report in Spanish daily El Mundo.
The unprecedented investigation, which began in 2014 has generated extra takings of €1.3 ($1.4 billion) for the Land Value Tax (Impuesto sobre Bienes Inmuebles).
Spain’s tax office estimates that the fraud occurred in as many as 8.9 percent of the houses registered on Spain’s municiple registers, or padrónes.
Around 70 percent of the homes not paying sufficient tax did not declare some kind of upgrade such as an extension or a swimming pool, but other discoveries included homes that had never even been registered.
It is estimated that the padrón has increased by as much as three percent from homes that local town halls had no idea existed.
When broken down into regions, the area with the most fraud discovered by the drones was Andalusia, with 373, 224 homes, followed by Galicia with 213,017 and Castilla y León with 164,141.
But if we look at the figures by proportion of homes, then the region of Aragón heads the list, with 16.87 percent of all homes committing tax fraud.
“For every euro spent on the project, the tax office recuperated 16 euros,” confirmed Spain’s tax office, which according to El Mundo, means the project cost an estimated €80 million to undertake.
And it is still ongoing, with around another two thousand towns and municipalities still to be checked.