Do you tip on the tax? [Restaurants]

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities

Do you tip on the tax?

Poll ended at Mon Aug 25, 2014 7:11 am

Yes, I tip on the total bill including the tax
97
47%
No, I tip on the food cost alone
98
47%
No, I do not tip at all
6
3%
My tip has no bearing on the cost
6
3%
 
Total votes: 207

Mike Scott
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by Mike Scott » Fri Aug 22, 2014 11:43 am

I object to the traditional "tipping" system / labor scam / extortion and do not usually leave any tip. If my wife is with me, she leaves whatever she pleases as a tip and she is generally a pretty soft touch.

hyla
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by hyla » Fri Aug 22, 2014 11:43 am

TheRightKost87 wrote: I also must say I'm surprised at how many bogleheads are above average tippers, and willing to round up to the nearest whatever, even if its a few dollars extra - considering the nitpickiness over a few basis points on an expense ratio. Maybe that's because for those individuals, the few basis points on the ER for their account is worth well over the price of the meal itself, nevermind the few dollar tip. If that's the case - congrats!
My expense ratio fees are going to folks with salaried, permanent jobs with benefits - they don't need to be any higher. My tips are going to waitstaff with (generally) no benefits, variable hours, and low incomes. They need the money for things like rent and groceries, and work hard for it. If I can't afford a decent tip, the way to save money isn't stiffing waitstaff, it's avoiding eating out in the first place, or eating at cheaper places so I spend less on food.

Also, this poll is missing a "My state doesn't have meals tax" option!

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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by KyleAAA » Fri Aug 22, 2014 11:47 am

Mike Scott wrote:I object to the traditional "tipping" system / labor scam / extortion and do not usually leave any tip. If my wife is with me, she leaves whatever she pleases as a tip and she is generally a pretty soft touch.
Do you tell your server this before you are served or after? IMO if you don't tell them this in advance, you are morally in the wrong.

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DonCamillo
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by DonCamillo » Fri Aug 22, 2014 11:58 am

I generally tip 20% for good service, rounded to whole dollars. Normally I round up the pre-tax amount to a multiple of $5 so that the tip is one fifth of the rounded amount. If the pre tax amount was $22 and the service was adequate but not good, I might round down to $20 and tip $4. For poor service, I usually tip $1, whether the bill was $10 or $100. For minimal but not "bad" service, I might tip 10%.

But I eat out frequently, and tips add a lot to cost. So more than half of my eating out is at places like Panera Bread where tipping is not expected.
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Mike Scott
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by Mike Scott » Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:12 pm

Tipping is optional, no?

"Do you tell your server this before you are served or after? IMO if you don't tell them this in advance, you are morally in the wrong."

toto238
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by toto238 » Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:19 pm

I worked as a waiter for a number of years. In the US, you get paid $2.13 per hour plus tips. Half your hours you work are times when there's pretty much no one there. If you get one table and a $3 tip on a $15 bill, you're doing pretty good. You get two busy hours where you get 5 tables or more at a time, but with so many customers all at once, your service you provide falls in quality.

Long story short, I've never tipped less than 20%, even if I was unhappy with the service. The person serving me is a human being deserving of human dignity. Their restaurant relies on me to pay them, so I will pay them what a human being deserves. If the service was truly exceptional, I call the restaurant later that night (when it's not so busy) and ask to speak with a manager and compliment my server.

ANOTHER IMPORTANT NOTE: I loooooove using coupons. Or to go to a restaurant when they're having a special (hello taco tuesdays!). But it's not the waiter's fault I'm a cheap son-of-a-mother. I calculate what the bill would've been if I had paid full price and tip based off of that number. So for example, if the bill would've been $40, but I used a coupon to get someone's entree free and it was only $25, I'm still tipping 20% of the $40 figure (or $8), not the $5 that tipping off the $25 would do.

Tipping is only optional if you have no morals or empathy for your fellow human beings.

spectec
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by spectec » Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:21 pm

One very reliable measure of character is the way a person treats those who have no power over them. The way a person treats people who work for tips falls directly into that scheme of things IMO.

Edit: That's a great point about the coupons, too. I always add the value of the coupon or discount card back to the net amount of the bill before calculating the tip.

A couple of months ago, my wife and I were at a chain steak house, engaged in a detailed conversation, and we forgot about how long we had been there. The manager stopped by our table to tell us that the kitchen had dropped one of our plates and they were having to re-do the entire order, so she was apologizing for the delay. (We hadn't even noticed the delay.) When the server brought our meal, she said the manager had told her to "comp" the meal (about $55 worth), even though we hadn't complained about the delay. We left a $20 bill for the tip.
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Khuzud
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by Khuzud » Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:32 pm

I tip 20% pre-tax, and then adjust it based on a checksumming technique.

Regarding the "suggested" tips, I've noticed some restaurants calculate that pre-tax, and some post-tax. I assumed it was some option the management could set on their credit receipt printer.

Mike Scott
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by Mike Scott » Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:35 pm

I reserve my moral outrage about tipping for the business owners who have made the choice to not pay their employees a fair wage.

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heartwood
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by heartwood » Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:35 pm

I usually tip 15 - 20% of the food and wine, not including tax. In NJ there are a shortage of liquor licenses because of old state laws; only one serve license per 5000 people. So licenses become private market items sometimes changing hands for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Because of that cost and the scarce numbers, many restaurants do not have licenses so there are a lot of BYOs. In that case I generally tip 20% or more on the food only since the waiter is only getting a percentage of the food even though he's still opening and pouring the wine I bring and providing glasses.

Sometimes depending on the price point we'll tip a round number person, e.g., $5 for my wife and $5 for me if we've had good service on a $20 meal with BYO, or $10 each at a BYO where the total is above $50 for BYO with good service.

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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by dumbbunny » Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:44 pm

I don't tip on tax and I hear others don't tip on wine because of the huge markup.
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by scrabbler1 » Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:50 pm

I don't tip on the tax. I will tip around 20%, a little less if the service was subpar but still acceptable (see below) and a little more if the service was better than I expected.

What I will do if I had a problem with the service is to go to the restaurant's website (if the place has one, which is pretty common these days) and write a complaint about it and ask to be contacted by the restaurant's manager. I have always received callbacks within a day or two so I get to explain more fully to the person who can best address the problem what I didn't like.

And, as a few others have mentioned, I make sure to tip on a gross, pre-discounted amount. If the manager comped the meal, I don't shortchange the server. Same if I used a coupon. One advantage of tipping on the pretax amount is that I don't have to figure out the tax on any addback due to these check reductions.

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matjen
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by matjen » Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:54 pm

I tip on the total bill and always 20% with usually a small % rounding up. I almost always pay for meals with a credit card and I just find this easiest and the couple bucks extra will help the server much more than hurt me.
A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.

dgdevil
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by dgdevil » Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:56 pm

Mike Scott wrote:I reserve my moral outrage about tipping for the business owners who have made the choice to not pay their employees a fair wage.
Is one obligated to tip at restaurants in municipalities where the minimum wage has been increased? Or in San Francisco where there is a healthcare surcharge? And why don't we tip at fast-food joints. Those folks work incredibly hard.

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oncorhynchus
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by oncorhynchus » Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:59 pm

Frankly, the whole "tipping culture" thing has turned me off to eating out altogether; I just want to eat a meal without being unwittingly dragged into a byzantine fiscal and social justice issue. Until this whole sordid mess goes away, I will refrain from eating out, and neither the wait staff, the kitchen staff, nor the management will get anything from me.
-- Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. --

DVMResident
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by DVMResident » Fri Aug 22, 2014 1:04 pm

My tips include the tax for no particular reason. High COLA.

I tip on the high end and higher for cheaper meals or when everyone at the table orders water. Just feels right.

John3754
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by John3754 » Fri Aug 22, 2014 1:38 pm

Not that long ago 15% was considered a standard tip and 18% was considered a GOOD tip...now it seems that 20% is considered standard...why is that and how long will be before servers are demanding 30% tips?

spectec
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by spectec » Fri Aug 22, 2014 1:48 pm

oncorhynchus wrote:Frankly, the whole "tipping culture" thing has turned me off to eating out altogether; I just want to eat a meal without being unwittingly dragged into a byzantine fiscal and social justice issue. Until this whole sordid mess goes away, I will refrain from eating out, and neither the wait staff, the kitchen staff, nor the management will get anything from me.
I like your honesty and your moral consistency.
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by hmw » Fri Aug 22, 2014 1:50 pm

I tip based on the pre-tax bill. I usually tip 20% for good service, and more for great service. When I was growing up in Canada, 15% tip was considered the norm. 20% seems to be the norm in the US.

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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by DFrank » Fri Aug 22, 2014 1:55 pm

I tip on the total bill. The amount can range from under 10% for really abysmal service, to a over 20% for truly outstanding service. I would say the routine for good service is 18-20%.

We have another tipping rule of thumb, which is unless the service is terrible, the minimum tip is $2 per person at the table. This handle small bills such as an informal breakfast where even 20% might not amount to that much.

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Alan S.
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by Alan S. » Fri Aug 22, 2014 2:13 pm

Random Poster wrote:Two comments:

1) Tip inflation has, in my view, gotten out of control. When the "standard" tip percentage went from 15% to 20%, I don't know, but I often see "suggested tip amounts" on receipts in the 25% range, so I'm sure tips in the 30% range can't be too far behind.

2) I'm having some difficulty reconciling the "few dollars doesn't make a great deal of difference" concept to the "fees matter and keep the expenses low" mantra.
+ 1

About what year did the standard tip move from 10 to 15, and what year from 15 to 20?
Obviously, none of these transitions was overnight, so the question would best be refined to the year the standard passed 12.5 and the year the standard passed 17.5.

And were these thresholds triggered mostly by reduced employer wages, or mostly social norms?

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JupiterJones
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by JupiterJones » Fri Aug 22, 2014 3:01 pm

Mike Scott wrote:Tipping is optional, no?
Sure.

But so are any number of random social niceties that are typically expected of someone who participates in this human culture we have here.

We can (often justifiably) question these expectations. But when we nonetheless participate in an activity that we know clearly involves those expectations, we are tacitly agreeing to abide by them. We are establishing a certain trust. That's simply how polite society works among decent people.

If, on the other hand, we participate in these activities with the intention of shirking those expectations, while nonetheless allowing the others involved to continue laboring under the assumption that we will fulfill them, then we are in violation of this trust.

Which is, simply put, a jerk move.

Specifically, a person patronizing a full-service restaurant in the U.S. is buying into a well-established social tradition. By simply sitting down at the table, they are implicitly agreeing to a deal between themselves and their server: Good service equals a reasonable bonus. Poor service equals no bonus. Truly standout service equals a larger bonus.

If you don't plan to hold up your end of this deal, that's your prerogative. The problem comes when you don't tell this to your server in advance, causing them to provide service with an expectation that you do not intend to fulfill. This is unfair to the server, not to mention being an essentially useless form of protest against the social institution of tipping.
Stay on target...

Raladic
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by Raladic » Fri Aug 22, 2014 3:02 pm

The poll should have one more option - "I use the tax as a hint for my tip".

In our State&County the tax amounts to 9.5%, so multiply by 2 and you get 19%, very handy for calculating the tip.

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cheese_breath
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by cheese_breath » Fri Aug 22, 2014 3:06 pm

TheRightKost87 wrote:Why do some pay with credit cards, but tip cash?
Because they're concerned management might not give the entire tip to the waitstaff if it's on the credit card.
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chaz
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by chaz » Fri Aug 22, 2014 3:06 pm

The wait staff relies on tips as an important part of their income, so 20%.
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by Gropes & Ray » Fri Aug 22, 2014 3:20 pm

cheese_breath wrote:
TheRightKost87 wrote:Why do some pay with credit cards, but tip cash?
Because they're concerned management might not give the entire tip to the waitstaff if it's on the credit card.
It's illegal in my state, and probably all states, for management to take the tip. I think the max management can withhold is the transaction fee applicable to the tip. I always figured people tip cash so that the waitress can cheat on her taxes.

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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by CABob » Fri Aug 22, 2014 3:25 pm

i'm not sure how to answer the poll. Generally my tip is 2X the tax rounded up to nearest dollar (except when I have a bunch of change to get rid of). This amount is then adjusted based on service, etc.
Probably this would most equate to tipping against the food total.
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Kenkat
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by Kenkat » Fri Aug 22, 2014 3:54 pm

My kids were taught tipping calculations in math class at elementary school and they were specifically taught to calculate the tip on the total bill amount before tax. Calculating the tip on the after-tax amount was considered a "wrong" answer. Not saying that is correct, but I was surprised how firm the stance was on this. Perhaps it is part of Common Core and is required to be taught that way. :confused

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greg24
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by greg24 » Fri Aug 22, 2014 3:58 pm

Mike Scott wrote:I reserve my moral outrage about tipping for the business owners who have made the choice to not pay their employees a fair wage.
If you don't like tipping, the best thing to do is to not patronize restaurants where tipping is expected.

If you go to a restaurant where tipping is standard, but you don't tip because you are morally outraged about it, you are the one in the wrong.

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cheese_breath
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by cheese_breath » Fri Aug 22, 2014 4:32 pm

greg24 wrote:
Mike Scott wrote:I reserve my moral outrage about tipping for the business owners who have made the choice to not pay their employees a fair wage.
If you don't like tipping, the best thing to do is to not patronize restaurants where tipping is expected.

If you go to a restaurant where tipping is standard, but you don't tip because you are morally outraged about it, you are the one in the wrong.
+1

It's not the business owners you're penalizing by not tipping. It's the waitstaff.
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.

bradshaw1965
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by bradshaw1965 » Fri Aug 22, 2014 4:40 pm

Mike Scott wrote:I object to the traditional "tipping" system / labor scam / extortion and do not usually leave any tip. If my wife is with me, she leaves whatever she pleases as a tip and she is generally a pretty soft touch.
Then you really shouldn't participate in the "scam". It's an implied contract and you reneged.

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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by bradshaw1965 » Fri Aug 22, 2014 4:40 pm

Mike Scott wrote:I object to the traditional "tipping" system / labor scam / extortion and do not usually leave any tip. If my wife is with me, she leaves whatever she pleases as a tip and she is generally a pretty soft touch.
Then you really shouldn't participate in the "scam". It's an implied contract and you reneged so I think you are the scammer.

Mike Scott
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by Mike Scott » Fri Aug 22, 2014 6:17 pm

Social conformity rides again!
Do you guys understand the concept of freedom of choice and thought or is this just internet indignation and posturing?

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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by Alskar » Fri Aug 22, 2014 6:20 pm

Oregon, where I live, doesn't have sales tax so I guess I tip on the total before tax. When I am outside of Oregon, I tip on the subtotal before tax. I tend to tip in cash as some places deduct money from the tip to cover the swipe fee. I typically tip 20%.
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by gkaplan » Fri Aug 22, 2014 6:24 pm

I tip based primarily on the service and secondarily on the food. I don't understand the rationale for tipping on the tax. The tax has nothing to do with the service or the food.
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skylar
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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by skylar » Fri Aug 22, 2014 6:27 pm

I eat out so rarely, I don't mind leaving a bit extra when I do. I general, the wait staff work hard and deserve it.

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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by john94549 » Fri Aug 22, 2014 6:34 pm

I learned the quick mental calculation while studying abroad: move the decimal point to the left, divide that by 2; add. Once my wife figured out I was still doing that, some 47 years later, she started paying the tabs.

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Re: Do you tip on the tax? [Restaurants]

Post by LadyGeek » Fri Aug 22, 2014 6:48 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (tipping). I also retitled the thread.
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Re: Do you tip on the tax? [Restaurants]

Post by hudson » Fri Aug 22, 2014 6:55 pm

I was a bellman one summer. Always 20% plus on total...even at buffets or at the counter.
I do not have a problem with anyone else's tipping or non-tipping practices.
Last edited by hudson on Fri Aug 22, 2014 8:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by steadyeddy » Fri Aug 22, 2014 7:26 pm

Mike Scott wrote:I reserve my moral outrage about tipping for the business owners who have made the choice to not pay their employees a fair wage.
I feel the same way, and I like to apply the same reasoning in other areas too. So when I visit stores like walmart that pay low wages, I like to protest by giving my cashier a swift kick in the pants after they check me out. There is nothing I enjoy more than expressing my freedom of choice and thought by taking advantage of those I perceive to be oppressed while simultaneously enriching their oppressor.

Gotta run now. My jeweler is having a sale on conflict diamonds, so I'm going to go buy them all in protest!

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Re: Do you tip on the tax? [Restaurants]

Post by crowd79 » Fri Aug 22, 2014 7:52 pm

Tip 5-10% on the bill minus tax.

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Re: Do you tip on the tax? [Restaurants]

Post by john94549 » Fri Aug 22, 2014 8:05 pm

crowd79 wrote:Tip 5-10% on the bill minus tax.
Even for those of us seniors, seems a tad extreme. Antipathy in general to the concept? Even I (admittedly a cheapskate, see above) would consider 15%.

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Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by nisiprius » Fri Aug 22, 2014 8:06 pm

JupiterJones wrote:
Mike Scott wrote:Tipping is optional, no?
Sure.

But so are any number of random social niceties that are typically expected of someone who participates in this human culture we have here.

We can (often justifiably) question these expectations. But when we nonetheless participate in an activity that we know clearly involves those expectations, we are tacitly agreeing to abide by them. We are establishing a certain trust. That's simply how polite society works among decent people.

If, on the other hand, we participate in these activities with the intention of shirking those expectations, while nonetheless allowing the others involved to continue laboring under the assumption that we will fulfill them, then we are in violation of this trust.

Which is, simply put, a jerk move.

Specifically, a person patronizing a full-service restaurant in the U.S. is buying into a well-established social tradition. By simply sitting down at the table, they are implicitly agreeing to a deal between themselves and their server: Good service equals a reasonable bonus. Poor service equals no bonus. Truly standout service equals a larger bonus.

If you don't plan to hold up your end of this deal, that's your prerogative. The problem comes when you don't tell this to your server in advance, causing them to provide service with an expectation that you do not intend to fulfill. This is unfair to the server, not to mention being an essentially useless form of protest against the social institution of tipping.
Well said.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

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Re: Do you tip on the tax? [Restaurants]

Post by Trader Joe » Fri Aug 22, 2014 8:19 pm

Absolutely not. We do not tip at all. Under any circumstances.

Tip = $0.00

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Re: Do you tip on the tax? [Restaurants]

Post by grabiner » Fri Aug 22, 2014 8:23 pm

I learned that the tradition was not to tip on the tax, since you weren't served anything for the tax. This led to rules of thumb such as tripling the tax in a state with a 5% sales tax to get 15% on the bill.

When the restaurant adds the tip to the bill (for a large party, or if you are using coupons), they normally compute a percentage of the post-tax bill. This suggests that many customers consider tipping on the tax to be fair. (It also increases the tip; if the restaurant adds a tip to a bill with a 7% tax, that's a 7% larger tip, or 1.26% more of the bill when the tip is 18%.)
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Re: Do you tip on the tax? [Restaurants]

Post by investor » Fri Aug 22, 2014 8:29 pm

I generally double the amount of the tax to determine the tip amount. Works out to about 20% in California

investor

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nisiprius
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Re: Do you tip on the tax? [Restaurants]

Post by nisiprius » Fri Aug 22, 2014 8:30 pm

For what it is worth, there is, I find, an Emily Post Institute and they have a set of General Tipping Guidelines. Emily' Post's minions say

"Wait service (sit down): 15-20%, pre-tax."
Emily Post Institute also wrote:Restroom Attendant $0.50-$3, depending on the level of service
Depending on the level of service???? I don't even think I want to know what might constitute higher "levels of service" in a restroom.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

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Re: Do you tip on the tax? [Restaurants]

Post by john94549 » Fri Aug 22, 2014 8:47 pm

Nisiprius, those familiar with foreign toilet service well understand. In certain countries, a moist, wet, cloth is worth a tip. Without getting too graphic, many countries have "facilities" where one must have, especially when elderly, a certain amount of assistance to avoid falling backwards*. Use your imagination.

*Thinking back to the South of France, when I was young, and somewhat inebriated.

bberris
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Joined: Sun Feb 20, 2011 9:44 am

Re: Do you tip on the tax? [Restaurants]

Post by bberris » Fri Aug 22, 2014 9:17 pm

Yes I tip on the tax. But I give that tip to the state because of all their hard work.

FedGuy
Posts: 1227
Joined: Sun Jul 25, 2010 3:36 pm

Re: Do you tip on the tax?

Post by FedGuy » Fri Aug 22, 2014 9:40 pm

cheese_breath wrote:I imagine I'm not the only one who has seen people with pencil and paper calculating the tip down to the penny. Must be embarrassing for those sitting with them.
It is.

A long time ago, I went to a restaurant with several friends of mine. When we received the check, we saw that the waitress had written along the bottom, by hand, "15% = [some amount] 18% = [some amount] 20% = [some amount]".

Two of the people at the table were Ph.D candidates in hard science or engineering programs at MIT. They resented the waitress thinking that they needed help doing the math, and were incensed when they realized that she had rounded up in each case. They did the math, literally wrote on the bill "15% = [some amount, somewhat less than what the waitress had written]" and insisted on leaving that exact amount, to the penny.

It was an unpleasant experience for everyone involved.

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