'Google tax' a good idea?

'Google tax' a good idea?

For the majority of us, paying tax is a necessary evil, but something which can't be avoided.

So knowing huge companies like Google, Facebook and Apple dodge the taxman here seems outrageous.

But requiring them to pay income tax could do more harm than good.

They're calling it a Google tax -- a way to make the massive global companies pay tax in all the countries they operate.

In theory it sounds appealing but in reality it might not work.

"I think it's to a very large extent a PR gimmick. It would be nice if it was true, but I just think it's a mirage," says former Inland Revenue 2IC Robin Oliver.

Mr Oliver says, for example, China could charge Fonterra an income tax. 

"We want them paying tax in New Zealand. If we have the Chinese putting tax on New Zealand milk sales, that's money that won't go to the New Zealand revenue."

The UK has managed to talk Google into paying $130 million. France is planning a levy on Google ads, while the Aussies are threatening 120 percent penalty fees.

Mr Oliver says Australian approach could end up doing us more harm than good.

A worst-case scenario would be a global tax war, causing us to lose more tax than we'd gain, meaning less money here for schools and hospitals.