SARS versus Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google

The largest tech companies in the world – Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google – generate far more revenue than the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

In April, SARS reported collecting a record gross amount of R2.068 trillion for the year ended 31 March 2023. The net collection after payment of R381 billion in refunds was R1.687 trillion.

This was the first time since it was formed that SARS collected so much money. The amount paid in refunds is also the largest ever paid since its formation.

South Africa’s higher tax revenues were good news for South Africa, which is battling rising debt fuelled by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Exceeding R2 trillion in gross tax collections was impressive for South Africa, considering its structural and economic challenges.

However, it is valuable to put this revenue in perspective. It is significantly less than what the world’s top technology companies make.

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer and cloud computing provider, generated R10.13 trillion in revenue over the last year.

It only generated R250 billion in earnings, which could be expected as it prefers investing back into the business instead of paying large dividends to shareholders.

iPhone-, iPad-, and Macbook-maker Apple generated R7.23 trillion in revenue over the last year. Most of this revenue came from iPhone sales.

Apple generated R1.78 trillion in earnings, which is higher than SARS’ R1.69 trillion in net revenue.

Microsoft, well-known for its Windows operating system, Office productivity suite, and Azure cloud-computing products, generated R4.11 billion in revenue.

Microsoft generated R1.45 trillion in earnings thanks to its profitable software and cloud products.

Google, best known for its search engine and Android mobile operating system, raked in R5.59 trillion over the last year. It reported earnings of R1.26 trillion.

The chart below shows how SARS’ revenue compares with the largest technology companies in the world.


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