UnderCover Waitress: Don't Lie to Balance The Books

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Don't Lie to Balance The Books

Ask the Waitress!
Hi, i work at a pizza restaurant as a server and my state pays 3.10 minimum for servers and 5.05 is the "tip credit" we have to claim. For example, tonight I made $14 after 8 hours at work but they still require me to claim $40.40 knowing I did not make that amount. Reasoning is its the beginning of the week and it will balance out at the end. I feel that this is unfair. Can you please give me some insight on this. 
Yes, I will try to offer some insight.

Tip Credit

First, a "tip credit" is not something you claim. You claim income, and only if you earn it.

A tip credit is the amount of money the restaurant saves as long as you earn enough in tips to cover minimum wage:

$3.10 + $5.05 = $8.15. This tells me that the minimum wage in your area is $8.15. Your employer is paying you a tipped minimum wage of $3.10. As long as you make at least $5.05 in tips per hour, you are making minimum wage. If you make less, your employer owes you money.

Claiming Wages

It is illegal for an employer to require you to claim money you didn't make. Period. If they are paying you the tip credit on a weekly basis, they don't need you to lie at the beginning of the week.

For example:

You work 8 hours on Tuesday. Tips are bad, and you earn less than $8.15 per hour. You claim the $15 in tips you made.

If your employer is correct, that it will balance out by the end of the week, then Friday should look like this:

You work 8 hours. You make $200 in tips.
$200 +  $15 = $215.
$215 \ 16 hours = $13. 44.
It did balance out; your employer does not owe you any tip credit.

For this scenario to work, you did not have to lie and claim money you didn't earn on Tuesday. Let's look at another scenario:

You work 8 hours on Tuesday. Tips are bad, and you earn less than $8.15 per hour. You claim the $15 in tips you made.

You work 8 hours on Friday. Tips are bad again, and you only earn about $30. 
$30 + $15 = $45. 
$45 \ 16 hours worked this week = $2.82.
Your employer owes you part of the tip credit. 
$5.05 - $2.82 = $2.23. 
16 hours x $2.23 = $35.68. 

In this scenario, your employer owes you $35.68 for the week. This is in addition to the $3.10 per hour he is already paying you. 

You should never be required to lie to the IRS about the amount of money you made. If your employer tries to say, "This is just for our bookkeeping records" then he needs to be audited, because his records should be accurate. The IRS would agree with me on this point. 

In my opinion, for all it's worth, you are being mistreated and stolen from. Remember, I'm not a lawyer, just a stupid waitress. ;-D 

Best of luck to you, 


  1. Lying to the IRS rates as a really, really foolish thing to do. Good advice!


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