Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Feb 10, 2008 07:33 PM

Should I Tip on bill amount without tax or total inclusive of tax?


A friend of mine only tips on the full amount for food and beverages. He says the "tip" is for services rendered and should not cover what goes to Uncle Sam. Still, several times when leaving a restaurant, I've noticed the nasty looks by the wait staff. I think the tip should be on the full amount inclusive of tax. We both give a 15% to 18% tip; depending on the quality of service. What's is proper?

  1. it's pretty much a matter of preference, but i personally like to tip on the total, after tax. then again, i'm a generous tipper - unless the service is really bad i generally leave 20%. [in cases when someone else is paying, i've been known to sneak a few extra dollars onto the table when i think my dining companion has shortchanged the server.]

    if i do it pre-tax i almost feel like i'm nickel-and-diming the server, because unless the bill is obscenely large, the difference isn't all that much. for example, if the bill is $100, and tax rate is 8.25%, the difference is $8.25 on the total bill. 20% of that is $1.65. as i see it, if i can afford to pay $100 [or $108.25] for a meal, i can afford an additional $1.65 in the tip...and the server probably needs it more than i do.

    3 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      I agree. I tip on the total after taxes, and always tip 20%, if not more, in recognition of extraordinary service.

      1. re: dolores

        I also agree.

        I've actually never thought about it, until I saw this thread.

        While I can see the rationale on tipping only the food/bev it really that big of a deal? Unless it's an expensive meal ($500+) is a couple a bucks going to make or break you? If so, maybe you should stay home and eat.

        I certainly don't think it deserves a nasty look from anyone on the waitstaff, though.

        To each his own, I guess.

        1. re: byeCalihelloBahamas

          >>If so, maybe you should stay home and eat.

          True. I look forward to my meals out and to the food as well as to my interaction with the servers. If they treat me as I would treat them, I am more than happy to tip them on the entire bill. Why nickel and dime them, since theirs is one of the hardest jobs around.

    2. Every time somebody brings up tipping (use your search engine), a real fracas ensues. It's amazing to me the length people will go to justify cheaping out -- with or without tax, with or without liquor, "the waitstaff should get a higher salary," etc..

      Whether you tip with the tax included or not is only a couple of bucks on even a fairly large bill. Is it worth that much to you? There's your answer. As for me, I tip a minimal 20% of the entire check; maybe more. Somewhat less if the service is poor (and it's the service, not a kitchen screwup or some such).

      The floodgates are now open!

      4 Replies
      1. re: Muskrat

        Before tax. To me it's the principle. Whether I'm tipping 10% or 35%.
        What special skill, labor, expertise, and experience went into the server's serving me up this tax?
        Here in Oregon we have no sales tax (but high income & property tax). Why should I tip our servers automatically less because they have the misfortune to be working in Oregon instead of Washington?
        Result: Wherever I am, they get equal treatment!

        1. re: Leonardo

          I feel strongly about tipping on the tax. I apologize for repeating myself, but once again, here is my rationale for doing so using a simplistic example:

          Let's say I have a similar dining experience in two different cities, generate a $100 (pre-tax) tab in both, and want to leave a 20% tip.

          In Oregon, as you've cited, there's no question that I would leave $20, since there's no tax.

          But here in Washington, D.C., there's a 10% tax. So my $100 tab winds up being $110 and I'll tip $22.

          Why do I leave more? Because when my waiter in Washington wants to take his family out to eat at McDonald's and runs up a tab of $20, it winds up being $22, while my waiter in Portland only spends $20. After providing the same level of service as my waiter in Portland, why should my waiter in Washington need to reach into his pocket for an extra $2 on top of what I've given him?

          Putting other tax and geographic cost differential considerations aside, what's wrong with wanting to give a tip that provides equal buying power to both servers? To me, that's truly "equal treatment."

          1. re: tubman

            Tubman I've hear your argument before and it's completely baseless. The server in Oregon is paying higher property and income tax in lieu of sales tax, his $2 goes towards those taxes. We all get taxed, just in different forms.

            1. re: Rick

              While what you say may be true about taxes in Oregon, I don't consider it the diner's responsibility to do a full assessment of each state's tax structure (some have income tax as high as Oregon's PLUS high sales taxes), and the server's personal situation so far as being a property owner (paying property taxes) or a renter (not paying property taxes) in determining what to tip.

              That's why I specifically said "putting other tax and geographic cost differential considerations aside" in my post. I believe I'm the only one so far on this thread to give any real rationale for why I believe tipping post-tax is the right thing to do.

              The reason I single out sales tax is that it's a fairly universal concept most of us face in the U.S., and there's no analysis on my part involved in figuring out what to tip, just to look at the figure at the very bottom on the check on which to tip. (It's also often a good deal of work to find the pre-tax total on some computerized checks that break out food and alcohol, or make subtotals at different stages of the meal.)

              The OP asked what others do, I answered, and provided some insight that may very well cause others to adopt the same tactic. If others consider it a waste of an extra dollar on a $50 tab, so be it.

      2. i never tip on the tax. why not just on food and beverage? the tax has nothing to do with the service. and i'm not cheap, either -- before some accusations fly.

        spend your money as you wish.

        1. I tip on the tax, but only because it's easier to figure out and I'm lazy. Also, unless you're spending thousands on dinner, it doesn't really matter.

          1. jfood tips on the number that is written in larger font. bill arrives, check to see if number of courses are there, look for the large font number, calculate

            jfood couldn;t care less about the pre/post tax. 15-20% of 6% tax does not even buy a small coffee at starbucks PP.