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Drones, drones, drones. Recreational ones. Fighting ones. Delivery ones. Now tax ones as well. If your home extension is sunny side up in Spain, but not declared to the Tax Manuel, you could be saying hola to a visit from the in eye the sky.
We still like to send out your final accounts for signature by conventional means, but online warehouse companies, some named after lengthy South American rivers, are proposing to make deliveries by autonomous quadcopter. In the near future Erica de Yong will descend in classic hardback to a soft landing into your back garden, all without anyone Learning To Fly in the first place.
That’s the theory anyway. Quite how these airborne strimmers will find their way around is another matter. GPS of course will help, but without the ubiquitous GoPro camera slung underneath, there won’t be any navigational back-up, and no way for the crew back at base to visually check if delivery went successfully. Even if fitted with a speaker to issue a robotic request to “sign here please”, we can’t imagine many people risking rotovation by sticking their writing hand into the maelstrom of blades whirling like a Dervish on acid.
Cameras it is then. Except there is the issue of privacy. You wouldn’t be too happy about a stranger snooping round the back of your property at ground level, let alone from the air. “I was just looking for a Pokemon” probably won’t save the miscreant from what might colloquially be described as a stiff doing.
Which brings us to the contentious world of surveillance. Never mind pirated delivery drones being used to case your joint, the authorities are already in on the act. At least they are in Spain.
There’s a bit of a problem with undeclared property extensions in Spain, but the inspectors have a new ally. They’ve been using drones to back up satellite surveys of the estimated 1.7m undeclared home improvements knocked up from San Sebastian to San Antonio. Newspaper reports say that owners have not declared the buildings to local councils, because an increase in size attracts increased property taxes in Spain.
We don’t know how many drones were used, nor how much a premium satellite mapping subscription costs, but the chances are it’s much less than the €1.25bn the Spanish treasury recouped in the operation. You naughty amigos.
So, the next time a drone takes an unhealthy interest in your conservatory, don’t assume it’s just looking for a place to land your boxset of Homeland. For Spanish tax evaders it could be Tales of the Unexpected instead.