With the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi around the corner, British-based accountancy and finance firm, Russell Smith Chartered Accountants, has been investigating just how the Imperial Empire was really able to afford its terrifying superweapon.
$852 quadrillion. This is the expected cost of the Death Star envisioned by George Lucas in Star Wars: A New Hope. The colossal structure stretched 160 km in diameter, housed over a million Imperials and was able to annihilate a planet with a single blast of its laser. But was the megastructure actually affordable? The GDP of Planet Earth is thought to be around 90 trillion, or 0.01% of the Death Star’s total bill. Even while governing an entire galaxy of lifeforms, could the Emperor really have raised that much cash?
Countless examples of calculations exist online, performing detailed cost analysis of how much the Death Star would cost to build, but nobody stopped to consider if the Imperial Empire actually had the capital assets to pay for such an endeavour. Until now. Russell Smith Chartered Accountants (RSCA) wanted to take a deeper look into the lore of the Star Wars universe, hoping to uncover the true-to-life buying power of the galaxies tyrannical rulers.
“It’s fascinating to explore the real economics of a fictional world like that of Star Wars,” comments Director Russell Smith. “In the Star Wars movies, they put an emphasis on trying to make what happens believable within the context of the Universe. Our team wanted to find out if the Death Star was one of those believable elements, or if it was a work of sheer fantasy”.
The team set about attempting to find out how the Imperial Empire taxed its citizens, the most likely source of revenue for a governing body. Despite the near-endless supply of published Star Wars material, however, there was little-to-no information on Imperial taxation, or how they paid for the iconic weapon of mass destruction. This led the team to a new tactic.
Using their Jedi-level financial skills, the accountancy team at RSCA used a collection of data, from the Star Wars galaxy and our own economy, to decipher the numbers behind the Death Star. Looking at the information they could find about a galaxy far, far away, they were able to discover the average wage of those living inside the Star Wars universe, and how many people lived under Imperial rule. Collating these figures — and working with real-world examples of taxation — they were able to definitively show that, yes, the Imperial Empire was capable of funding the Death Star.
Although, it was not as easily paid for as you might have once thought.
In their Star Wars infographic, detailing exactly how they got to this figure, the RSCA team reveal that the Death Star cost more than double the annual tax revenue of the Imperial Empire. Over the course of the 20-year construction period, it would cost the Empire around 8% of their total tax income. Compare this to the cost of the World War II for the United States, coming in at a cost of 5% of their annual tax income, and you start to understand the scale of the build, even for a galactic dictatorship such as the Empire.
Discussing the results, Russell Smith said: “Our research shows that the Imperial Empire was capable of funding the Death Star, but it was a much bigger and more costly job than we ever thought”.
See the infographic at: https://rsaccountancy.co.uk/2017/10/09/accountants-from-leeds-death-star-finances/