UnderCover Waitress: Never Pay Tax on Other People's Tips or Tip Outs

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Never Pay Tax on Other People's Tips or Tip Outs

Ask the Waitress!

This problem is one people write to me rather often. This is unsettling because every time someone says, "this is happening," we have another restaurant owner breaking the law.

Here is a good example:
Hello Waitress,
My employer is taxing me on 100% of my tips on my paycheck and giving them all to me but......is telling us to tip the bussers and bartender 25% of our wages, yet they are not taxing the bussers or bartender on any part of that 25% and they are telling us we are required to pay them their percentage of the tips when we get our paycheck.  I want to tip the bartender and bussers, that is not an issue. 
So if I make 500$ in tips, i will receive all $500 on my check and will be taxed on all $500.   Then I am expected to hand out $125 of that money. The bussers and the bartender are not taxed on this.  
If you make $500 but have to tip out $125, then you pay tax on $375. The recipient of your tips pays tax on the $125.

Internal Revenue Service

The above law is via the IRS and applies to all fifty states. It does not matter whether you earn a tipped minimum wage or full minimum wage, the IRS requires you to pay tax on your own income. They do not require you to pay tax on other people's incomes, and they don't allow your employer to tell you to pay somebody else's income tax.

IRS Publication 531 was last updated in 2013. It states clearly that your employer may use an electronic tip record to record daily tips, but that if he does, he must give you a paper copy.

Under "What tips to report," the IRS writes:
If you participate in a tip-splitting or tip-pooling arrangement, report only the tips you receive and retain. Do not report to your employer any portion of the tips you receive that you pass on to other employees. However, you must report tips you receive from other employees.
Therefore: you do not report money you don't get to keep, AND those who receive tips from other employees must claim the money for themselves.

Another handy page at the IRS website is "How Do You Report Suspected Tax Fraud Activity?" There are forms you can print and fill out, and you are allowed to remain anonymous if you choose. You may use this resource to report a business you suspect (or know very well) is guilty of not complying with tax laws.

Thanks for writing, and best of luck. 

85 comments :

  1. Good advice!

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  2. Hi Bill, thanks for the thoughtful comment. I see you have worked in kitchens but you do not mention working FOH.


    The only thing you have said that I agree with is that the tip system creates problems -- you said an unfair situation; however, I think you and I likely see the problems tipping creates as different.


    For the record, I have worked with bartenders who stand around doing nothing (because people are not ordering drinks) and then expect a full twenty percent of tips. Ridiculous.


    The FOH works extremely hard. So does the BOH. The BOH looks at server tips and gets jealous and greedy. Other FOH workers assume waitresses are "raking it in" and also get greedy, wanting their "fair share." Reality is tipped work is difficult and after everybody gets their cut the waitress is often left with very little. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.


    Tipping creates problems because it undermines teamwork. It also creates an entire industry that must perform emotional labor in order to make money; that, however, is fodder for another blog post.

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  3. I have worked both FOH and BOH in restaurants.

    There are exceptions to every rule, but the way I see it:

    Dishwashers work the hardest, followed by cooks, then bartenders, then servers, then host.
    Bartenders are paid the most, then servers, then cooks, then host, then dishwashers.

    I say dishwashers work the hardest because they have to carry heavy loads, are constantly doused in hot water and nasty food, and to boot any misc nasty task around the restaurant almost always goes to them.

    In many restaurants, dishwashers are lucky to make a buck over min wage, cooks maybe a dollar more than that.
    Servers make low base pay but end up with double minimum wage if not more, unless business is terrible and in that case they tend to go home and the remaining servers still do pretty decent.

    The fact is, servers are almost guaranteed to make more money than most positions in the restaurant because the business tends to be low margin and most jobs get paid close to minimum wage. Servers are required by law to make at least minimum wage with their tips factored in, but if they make a lot more it never goes back to the cooks or dishwashers. Add in the fact that close to half of server income does not even get reported for taxes adds a nice bonus on top of everything else.

    Bartenders I say work harder in general than servers because they have to serve food at the bar acting like a server for those patrons, and they make more because they tend to get tipped out in addition to making their own tips.

    That being said, if everyone is doing their job everyone is working hard.

    What order would you place the jobs in terms of work and pay?

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  4. Depends upon the labor and wage laws of the state, as well as the specific restaurant, as well as the personalities of the people holding the jobs. I could never work as a cook because I don't think I could handle the stress of dealing with hot grease, etc. under pressure. However, I have handled the stresses of serving in a busy and understaffed restaurant with grace.


    In states lacking laws regarding what you can make a waitress do, its the waitresses who get the jobs you are claiming go to the dishwasher. In my experience, the dishwasher gets sent home so the boss can save money, which means the FOH has to keep the dishes going in addition to their own jobs. I've worked for chef-owned restaurants, but have not worked for a big chain.


    Bartending has been the easiest job for me, personally. Halfway decent wage, a tip out, and if people sit at the bar I get to serve them. However, on a busy night I would still make better money waiting tables. Key: on a busy night. One thing about the "green-eyed monster" is that people who don't wait tables seem to assume that waitresses are always raking it in, which isn't the case. Rather, the good nights must make up for the bad.


    Hostessing looks easy, but I don't think it is. I see restaurants give hostessing jobs to the very young, who do whatever the biggest bully waiter or waitress tells him or her to do... which is not good. I prefer having a strong management type with a backbone in the position of host or hostess.


    In the end, I would like to see tipping end, and have people simply make decent wages for an honest day's work. I think tipping causes more problems than it solves.


    Cheers!

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  5. The problem with your logic is that on a 'bad' night, the server still makes $7.25, and sometimes 2 to 3 times that much. The cook is probably making 8$ to 9$ an hour, so on a bad night the cook makes about the same as the server and on a good night makes half what the server makes.

    Of course much depends on the establishment and state laws. After working for restaurants in 3 different states including casual chains, fine dining, and family restaurants,
    I have never worked in a restaurant that makes servers clean up crap in the bathroom or get filthy taking massive food service trash bags out to the dumpster. I would hesitate to eat at an establishment where the food handlers were expected to clean feces.

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  6. Personally if I were you, I would be happy to work there. Once you finish training, you will be making bank. For an 8 hour shift, $200 to $250 means you make $25 to $31.25 an hour.


    My advice is be grateful you have a job at this establishment.

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  7. Then you live and work in a state that mandates what work FOH can be asked to do, such as Calif. or Mass., to name a couple of them. Waitresses in most states DO clean the bathroom and take out garbage. For tipped minimum wage, it is cheaper for the owner to pay the waitstaff to do these things than to keep a dishwasher or anybody else, for that matter, for $8 or $9 per hour to do so. For six years, it was our job at the end of the shift to clean the bathrooms. Some nights people would do it early and, yes, that meant the people serving you dessert had just cleaned the toilet.


    The problem with my logic? No. In states with tip credits, servers are not necessarily making full minimum wage on any given night, but as long as they average minimum wage per pay period it is legal. Plus, being sent home because the restaurant is slow is not some bonus when you have bills to pay. As always, its the green-eyed monster. People look at what they perceive other people to be making, make false assumptions, and want the employees with the least power to give up their tips, instead of demanding a reasonable wage from employers. I have seen what owners manage to keep for themselves while screaming poverty at their workers; many owners could afford to pay more. They don't because they don't have to.

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  8. I agree the tip system is wrong and allows employers to take advantage of workers they pay $2 an hour.
    However, it is also clear that tipped workers in restaurants end up taking home more pay than the employees with full hourly wage so I think your desire to end the tip system will end with servers taking home less money. I guess that is fair all around because everyone in a restaurant, tipped or not, works hard and deserves a fair wage.I saw a comment on this article where it was suggested on each check there should be a line for the server and a separate line for BOH employees so that the tips got shared around a little. I know personally I have been in situations where the food was good but the service was bad and vice versa. In these situations it would be more fair to tip the employees that are doing their work properly rather than only having the option to tip the server.

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  10. Most people will want to continue with the same drink anyway because mixing liquors can often make one violently ill. I never worked as a waitress, but I did have a bartender father, and when drinks were served in our house, we didn't change up the drinks with our guests. That is a migraine or indigestion waiting to happen.

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  11. I currently work at an Olive Garden. While we do not have SA's the hosts are the ones who do all the side work, run food and drinks and deal with the angry servers/guests. Darden has been known to cut corners, and that includes the GM's. Mine plays Mojor favorites. I found out that all of the hosts (That are in high school) are getting paid a dollar more than I. When I talked to the GM about it she refused a raise because I agreed to the pay rate (a year and a half ago). Also My boyfriend worked there for 7 years. 3 of which as a Culinary Assistant (sous chef). They dissolved that position so instead they had him clock in as a line cook. Even though he ran the entire kitchen and did half of the managers work such as HASAP forms. Needless to say I'm looking for a new job.

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  12. I was a proprietor at Outback for over 15 years and wanted to update some of this info. First, Proprietors do make about $60k - but that is just the base salary. Then they make an additional 10% of profits. I was pulling in about $125k total when I finally had enough. Yeah, it's great money. But with corporate continually trying to squeeze the hourly staff, there were far too many head aches for me. In some areas of the country there are plenty of managers and they have a really good life. I was always at least one manager short because "I would take the beating" For some crazy reason (healtcare and/or greed) they are hung up on the number of "hours" the staff works. Cut the cooks hours, then the servers, let's get rid of the busboys ... on and on until every shift is an absolute beat down because you don't have enough to properly serve the guests. Morale and sanitation go by the wayside and employee turnover spikes. Tipshare employees (host, bar) get a percentage of the sales on top of the $2.13 per hour. Cooks and dishwashers get a decent hourly rate but are constantly expected to bust butt - there is no coasting there.

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  13. Thanks for the update! I hate it when employers cut costs by cutting back on hours for necessary workers; you are so right: service, sanitation and morale suffer.

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  14. Does this go for waiters too?

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  15. I don't think it's fair that server wage hasn't been raised in decades. Whhyyy.

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  16. My husband has been working for Red lobster for some time. I put on Child Support which they were garnishing his checks. he still works there but child support said that he no longer works there. but i see his checks every week, hes getting paid but theres something different about his checks. Do you think he could request to get paid only cash? Or some other way to trick the system as being a waiter to get out from paying child support?

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  17. I personally do not know of any trick waiters use to avoid paying child support; however, many men do try to get out of paying child support. Perhaps a lawyer should take a look at the checks.

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  18. So my restaurant makes us tip 7% to the salaried chefs, and then only pays out a small portion of that percentage, and keeps the rest in a "surplus" account incase we have slower sales period...which we never do. Its insane. What to do about it? Labor board was too confused about the situation to help.

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  19. The Labor Board being confused about this example of wage theft is a travesty, in my opinion. Try the IRS -- if the restaurant is keeping your tips (and the tips belong to you, not the salaried chefs,) they may be dodging taxes. If yes, the IRS will care. This may also result in the restaurant being audited. Good luck.

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  20. You seriously believe servers dont work as hard as dishwashers or anyone else? We bust our ass and im quite offended u even suggest that ridiculous statement. Does a dishwasher make 2.40 an hr like i do? I think we r at the bottom of the pole on who gets paid the least. i get so sick if self rightious assholes who think servers dont do shit

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  21. I'd like to point out a problem with tip credit that most do not seem to understand. While it is true that the restaurant has to insure that the server's wages match the minimum wage by law, it's not exactly how you describe in your example. Tip credits are applied over the whole pay period, NOT for single shifts.

    As per your analogy, the restaurant owes you one dollar from a slow two hour shift. And the next night you come in, and again, two hours later you are sent home. You took one table again and this time earned a $7 tip. Your tip credit is $3 per hour and you worked 2 hours; $3 x 2 = $6. But you made $7 in tips. Last night you earned $1 less and tonight you earned $1 above.
    As long as these 2 days are in the same pay period, you have reached minimum wage tip credit.

    This; more often then not, is why one hardly hears of servers fighting to receive those credits from their employers.

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  22. Absolutely true, the tip credit is applied to the pay period, not the shift.


    Servers don't fight to receive tip credits for three reasons: 1. They may have earned minimum wage when tips are spread out over the pay period. 2. They are ignorant of their rights. Don't expect an employer to explain it to them. 3. They lose track (because they don't write down tips and hours at the end of each shift) of whether they deserve a tip credit or not.

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  23. the management at olive garden in robinson township think they are gods. I was glad to see a sexist manager get transferred. As for being sick and having to call off, they demand a doctors excuse. Next time im puking and sick im going to go in and make sure all the customers realize they are being taken care of by a contagious staff. I say let the customers know . The management also will indeed take hours away from "trouble makers" as well as give no raise or a small nickel raise. UNIONS , we need it when it comes to darden. Shadey, underhanded dictators.

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  24. Maybe she was a hooker then upped her goals to stripping then really straightened out and is now a waitress at hooters. STFU with the I'l bet you can make money elsewhere. What kind of arrogance do you have to have to say a girl working at hooters is not a respectable job. They are servers and that is a damn hard job and I bet they make a lot with tips especially if they look good or have a great personality just like any other Server. Don't get it twisted do you think a hot looking waitress at Fridays or Red Lobster or BW3's isn't selling looks they will use good looks and flirting to get better tips too. Maybe she likes workign at hooters. Just the arrogance one you an adult telling another adult that thier job isn't good enough is very disrespectful.

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  25. Get Experience or just lie on your resume and say you have experience if you know the job well enough it don't matter they don't check resume's that often. You can lie on them everyone does. Do whatever you need to get your foot in the door and then work hard.

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  27. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  29. Bartenders also wash glassware... but the hardest thing in this industry isn't physical labor. It is dealing with people. Sounds silly, but it is a mind game. It is literally a mental juggle when you have 10 orders in your mind to remember, your servers are calling out their drink orders, people want you to get them change or close out their cards, someone wants to carry a full on conversation with you about something that isn't easy to walk away from, someone wants to ask you about different drinks or food items, other people need you to change a television, someone is pissed off and you need to appease them, a food runner comes up to you asking where a food order is going... and you need to do all of it in the right order and quickly enough to ensure that everyone is happy. I'm not even exaggerating, I have been that busy before... many a time... it is indeed a challenging profession, but I enjoy a good challenge. I have never been a dishwasher, however, so I would be interested in hearing your rebuttal on this.

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  30. Can they be forced to give some of their tips to the cooks? Is this legal?

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  31. Giving tips to kitchen staff is against federal law. Only workers who have direct contact with customers and provide "service" may receive tips and participate in tip pools.

    Unfortunatetly, this does not stop some restaurant owners and managers from requiring tip sharing with the kitchen. Wage and Hour division of the Department of Labor is the appropriate place to file a complaint.

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  32. At the small town café where I work occasionally (on-call), there is a 14 year old dishwasher paid ($7.00 per hour) to do the dishes. As I work ONLY for tips (only helping out a friend), she had the balls to ask me to split my tips with her!!???? I laughed at her and explained that I don't have a base wage that I add my tips to. You know her answer??? Classic "entitlement" generation, "But you're older and I'm just a kid, and I need the money more than you do". Needless to say, I went to my friend/owner and said that she really needed to talk to this little twit...

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  33. Just give away the remains of the almost empty bottle to a regular customer.

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  34. She's sitting on a fortune, if she only knew it.

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  35. AND since you're not getting paid a base wage as the law requires, you're not really even working there. What kind of hippy outpost are you living in?

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  36. It is illegal for you to "work" for tips only. However, it is also illegal for an employee (which you are not) to be required to share tips with the dishwasher.


    It sounds like your friend is not running an establishment that would survive an audit...

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  37. Pictures of boobs are nice too...

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  38. Either the bartender is a rapist or the rapist is a complete bitch, but we'll never know.

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  39. Douches are a major buzzkill. Douche SUPERVISORS are even worse. They are the Lance Clark of the association world,
    https://www.linkedin.com/pub/lance-clark-mba/5/93b/b98

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  40. Your new owner is a rapist, and you and everyone else need to find new jobs as quickly as possible, while giving away free food and drink, stealing and breaking things at every opportunity.


    Do not under any circumstances EVER sign an employee handbook.

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  41. If the manager makes less than you, perhaps you could propose a job swap. Sounds like a pussy.

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  42. You're not a server, you're an underpaid kitchen worker.

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  43. Sounds like some Occupy crap, but you forgot to say ''Banksters''.

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  44. Cash lying around is fine, cash deposited into a bank account is stupid.

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  45. Not believing that for a minute.

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  46. Don't forget the blowjobs.

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  47. Uptight rigid feminist bitch....who couldn't get hired at Hooter's.

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  48. Your boss probably fucks various waitresses as they pass through.


    Your move is to find another gig right away and quit without notice in the middle of your shift, and be sure to say why.

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  49. The takeaway from this is that Starbucks screws their employees.


    Although I have to say the bathrooms are a good place to masturbate, if you can find one without a hidden camera.

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  50. The one thing every restaurant employee learns is how to steal from the employer. This lady needs to get with the program.

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  51. Norma, has your son gotten any smarter?

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  52. Sounds like you're letting Starbucks eff you in the A.

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  53. The fat load who ran the Mousetrap in Charlottesville spent years suing someone who didn't even order anything. You can look it up on the internet. On the bright side, John the blues singing cook fucked her big legged small breasted but still attractive daughter, and her dishwasher started off each shift with two stolen Heineken Darks followed by the occasional pitcher while working. Of course there was the day half a hit of acid went missing in the kitchen...

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  54. You forgot to point out that the manager sounds stupid.

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  55. And you wonder why your employees steal from you....

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  56. Please describe your daughter's tits.

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  57. Your employer is raping you.

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  58. Now that you've done that job you can put it on your ''resume'' and go back to shaking your ass and leaning over so I can get a good look at your tits. And your tip income was always taxable, as is your husband's so it sounds like you may be a criminal.

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  59. Why do you repeatedly post the same story?

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  60. Steal steal steal.

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  61. Totally don't care. Been to a few strip clubs and it was fun, but with all the skintight sheathing Hooters girls have to wear, I've never gone inside. The RESTAURANT, Johnny Dirtymind.

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  62. Gives me hope.

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  63. Pics or it didn't happen.

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  64. Some would make the case that in its day ''well-regulated'' referred to ''keeping in practice'' but leaving that possibility aside, the SECOND part of the SECOND Amendment DOES lay down a strict rule... ''Shall NOT be infringed.''


    Bazinga. Since you like strict rules.

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  65. Cops are notoriously bad marksmen. It's why they carry so many magazines. They almost PLAN to miss. And in a live situation a 50 percent hit rate isn't actually bad. The problem is the total number of rounds let off by those four animals in blue who should be killed.


    Strangely enough, when it came time to rape Abner Louima with a broomstick they had no difficulty finding his asshole. Go figure.

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  66. ''I also see no reason whatsoever for citizens to run around with guns that shoot more than one, single bullet at a time. ''

    Where are these mystery guns, retard? Except for some museum pieces, every gun shoots one, single bullet at a time.

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  67. Spoken like someone who's never been in a gunfight.

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  68. ''Scary to think something with the power to kill so many so quickly is legal.''


    By that logic we should outlaw both Negroes and police officers.

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  69. The boss is not really ''undercover'' if there's a camera crew following him. But I WOULD hit that thang.

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  70. Ive been a dishwasher, and i worked my way up to server. Depending on your section and tables servers can work as hard. Though dishwasher probably works a little harder, serving is definately not easy, also washing dishes requires no charisma or mental tolerance, whereas serving does.

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  71. So, using a POS system to clock in and out on, it figures your sales, tips, and amount you should claim. I would deduct my tip outs since it was money I wasn't taking home. Do the employees whom are tipped out, also have to claim the tips they've received?

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  72. Legally, yes, the other employees are expected to claim all of their income, just like you. However, if they fail to do so this is not your responsibility. The IRS holds you responsible for claiming your own income, and the employees you tip out are responsible for claiming their own income.

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  73. I worked at Outback for a miserable six weeks. In that time we changed proprietor and the new one brought in almost his entire crew from his old restaurant. I had my hours cut in half and told I wouldn't make it because I couldn't handle an eight table section and plate my food during lunch rush. Also, I still haven't been paid for my training hours because I wasn't given a clock in number until I was on the floor (I admit I was dumb in believing the current proprietor when he said would take care of it). And the comps! The manager comped tables all the time just so the customer would come back, and then they wouldn't tip! Ugh, my hatred for Outback is deep.

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  74. I need some kind of black wrist burn guard for holding hot trays. Where can I find them?

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  75. Is it agenst the law not to seat a server

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  76. Here's my problem with that. You lose valuable time by digging through your bank and also keeping it organized. I think it is much faster to take your money to the till...have whomever is authorized in it give you the change that is suppose to go back to the customer and they put what is owed in the till....it's simple. Plus gives the waitress time to run and refill drinks and then go back and grab the change. I have been so busy trying to just make change for a table of five all paying separate with cash while customers sit getting upset at me that they need refills. I guess a good manager should be there to help with these instances to keep customers happy. When I managed a bar/restaurant I would constantly watch for drinks that need filled and dirty dishes and also payments set out. It just takes stress off your waitress who is and or should be running her butt off.

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  77. The staff in the kitchen can make upwards of 15$ an hour. My boyfriend makes 12.50$ and I'm a server making 2.13$ plus tips but they want us off the clock as soon as possible but will let the kitchen get overtime in a heartbeat... I dont understand it. Also we did away with busboys about two years ago and so we now have to bus our own tables which would be fine if we didnt have amillion other things to do like sidework,running food(which they are always yelling about even though we need to take care of our tables) , along with running food 50%of the time we are pulling and plating our own food because the managers are always off doing something else unless its a weekend and the proprietor is in the window. They complain about the kitchen staff not working hard enough while continually giving more work and keeping the pay the same. They took away the morning prep people and so now the line cooks must cook and finish prep and they wonder while we cantget lunch out fast enough and on top of that they only schedule two people on the line during a lunch shift and they have to do all thix before their shift is finished while being given the same pay. Sorry i could go on for days.

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  78. So at the restaurant I work at our bussers make 12 dollars an hour. Is it illegal to try to force us to tip them? They're being paid above minimum wage and a lot of nights they're making more money than me.

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  79. Beth Bays-Wroth JerniganAugust 3, 2017 at 12:11 AM

    Depends on what you make an hour. Not enough info

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  80. Jeremiah4534@yahoo.comAugust 3, 2017 at 1:57 PM

    I am a cook for Darden and rest assured they pay well.

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  81. I really impressed after read this because of some quality work and informative thoughts . I just wanna say thanks for the writer and wish you all the best for coming!.
    Product Feed Submission Services

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  82. I think that bad tippers are the worse. Especially rich and famous people who demand more than others. This list proves just how obnoxious and bad they can be.
    http://tips21.com/cheapest-and-most-generous-celebrity-tippers/

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  83. Good lord woman WHY would ur you and your husband think it's okay to trick the system allowing him to get out of his obligation to pay child support and why would you be this man's cheerleader...? please re-read your post I can't help but think you meant to say something else don't help a man trick another woman out of caring for her children that is a very ugly thing to do whether you work for Darden or not...

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  84. One restaurant I just started working at does the top out. Its confusing bc there are nights that we waitresses owe the restaurant money! And sometimes don't even get paid. Its unfair

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  85. Doea anyone know if u tip bussers off the net sales or gross? It doesn't make sense to tip out on sales tax

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