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Google maps view of Belfast City

Irish tax collectors using Google to spy on Irish tax evaders

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Google maps view of Belfast City

Hit with a big tax bill? Blame NASA.

Enterprising Irish Tax Commissioner's have taken to Google Earth in a novel way of finding tax evaders and evidence of their undeclared wealth or illicit earnings.

The international satellite and street view images online could be used to provide evidence of major work around people's homes such as home extensions, new swimming pools or other undeclared assets that could suggest a family's wealth is actually far above the levels indicated by their tax returns.

Let's face it, desperate times inspire desperate measures. With tax returns diminished by the recession, the Irish Revenue Commissioners are scratching their heads to unearth every last cent owed by Irish taxpayers.

They have reason to get creative. The tax collected has fallen from 47.3 billion euro in 2007 to less than 30 billion forecast for this year.

Next up Irish tax collectors may turn to other information gathering tools including Google Earth and international social media sites such as Facebook to search for individual data during their searches for undeclared income.

The use of Google Earth as a wealth sniffing tool was first attempted by the hard hit Greek tax authorities in the wake of the IMF bailout of the troubled country.

Greek investigators made use of the new technology to discover swimming pools located in the back gardens of people who were claiming welfare from the state.

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