More than a million jobs to do

The story of part-time teacher and mum-of-two Chrissi Sharkey has captured the imagination of millions this week.  Mrs Sharkey launched a website offering to do odd jobs for £1 in order to save up for her £1m dream home. 


It’s a heart-warming tale, and one I’m sure that’s got the taxman rubbing his hands with glee too, because Mrs Sharkey’s aspirations will be heavily taxed.

Even a full time textiles teacher in Oxford only earns £20,000 to £30,000 a year, a long way off the kind of salary you need in order to afford a £1m mansion.  Wisely realising that her part time teaching job alone wasn’t going to cut the mustard Mrs Starkey is willing to knuckle down and work hard for her prize, a commendable attitude, but on closer inspection it looks like she still won’t be able to afford that house.

Let’s say Mrs Sharkey earns £18,000 a year for her part-time teaching job.  She claims she earned an extra £15,000 by taking on odd jobs through her website, upping her annual income to £33,000.  Of course, she is not £15,000 closer to her dream home though, thanks to income tax.  The first £6,475 of whatever she earns is tax-free, but anything over that allowance will see Mrs Sharkey paying the basic rate of income tax, 20 per cent.  If she does a few more odd jobs and earns more than £37,400 she’ll tip over into the next tax band, and HMRC will trouser even more of her hard earned cash.  She also has to pay 11 per cent of what she earns in National Insurance contributions, again she’ll have to work a bit harder to reach her £1m goal.

Even if each job only takes half an hour she would still need to spend 500,000 hours to get £1m in the bank (and that’s before the taxman takes his cut).  In between her part time teaching job, looking after her children and sleeping she will need a couple of hundred years to clock up that many odd jobs.  Sadly by that time she will be dead and it’s likely that her dream house will be off the market or significantly more expensive.  What’s more, even if her children, Deluca, who’s four, and two year old Rocco, decided to step up and fulfil their mother’s dream, they would find themselves a few quid short, thanks to a cash grab in the form of inheritance tax at 40 per cent (the threshold is £325,000).

But Mrs Sharkey is a little more savvy and her idea a little more sophisticated than I have given her credit for.  The recent media attention she has received, combined with the fact that many of her jobs earn her more than £1 mean that she is in with a chance of hitting her £1m target.  But don’t get too excited, time for more bad news I’m afraid, a £1m house actually costs a lot more than a million once you’ve paid the Stamp Duty Land Tax (not to mention the agents fees).  We know that Mrs Sharkey is not a first time buyer, the Mail tells us she already lives in a £200,000 house with her family.  So instead of a £250,000 threshold on SDLT she faces paying 4 per cent on the purchase price – an extra £40,000 in tax.

If all of this isn’t enough to dash the hopes of even the most determined dreamer, how about a story like this to break your spirit: 'Revealed: the £2.6m council house family'.  Unemployed mum-of-eight Francesca Walker lived in a £2.6m house in Notting Hill, next door to millionaires, for more than a year at taxpayers’ expense.  Loathe to be thought of as a scrounger, Mrs Walker said at one point that she would rather be in a job than caught in a benefits trap which leaves her worse off if she goes out to work.  Her story is not a one-off, who could forget Toorpakai Saiedi.  We are living in a society where those with big dreams like Chrissi Sharkey are offered little incentive to work hard, to save, to try and build a future for their children.  Our tax and welfare systems  need to be reformed, so that they work in harmony with enterprising women like her.

Mrs Sharkey, if you’re reading this, I congratulate you on your industrious attitude and wish you well in your venture, but I think you should really consider buying the domain

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