Google good? Or Google bad?
Clearly, the principle of paying your taxes is important - after all, it's the price we all pay for living in a country that has hospitals, roads, law, order, bin collections and some kind of competent government.
But Google also gives a LOT of their stuff away for free - and we all benefit from that financially.
Without Gmail, for example, most of us would probably have to actually pay for email and storing stuff online. Remember, Microsoft charge for their Outlook package when you buy your PC and they are heading over to a monthly subscription service later this year for all their new Office Suite products. Gmail not only gives us a great free service, but also makes sure that very few rivals now dare to charge.
Google also provides a direct (and free) challenge to the established MS Office order with Google Docs - free word processing, spreadsheets, etc. And with Google Drive, you get storage, websites and a whole raft of online goodies for nothing.
For example, I've just set up a new document Archive for our local school for free using Google's Education programme which has given us exactly what the school needs and saves the school at least £50 / month, every month compared with the commercially available systems we looked at. Thanks to Google, in effect, this money can now be spent in other areas.
And then there's free Search, Maps, You Tube videos, Calendar, Images and so on. It all costs Google money to create this stuff and maintain it (see my Cloud Computing blog) but everyday users don't pay a thing towards it. (There IS the issue of giving companies like Google a lot of our personal data, but that's a whole other topic...)
So while I understand that corporate tax is the charge we levy for trading in our country, we, the people of Britain, benefit financially every day from Google's free services, albeit not through the corporate tax collecting duties of HMRC.
I really didn't want this blog to be a tub-thumper for Google, but I do think they, at least, give something back.
I haven't seen Amazon or Starbucks offering free books, coffee or muffins to anyone, ever.