HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Should you tip on tax?

I have always been, I think, a reasonably generous tipper. I almost always leave 20% of the total (including tax) in nice restaurants, and often push it up to 23-25% in places where I am a "regular" and get treated especially well. In very casual coffee shops, I usually tip 15-18% of the total bill.

I have recently been told that tipping on the tax is excessive and unnecessary. Upon calculating it out, I realized that a 20% tip on the bill including tax, is equivalent to about 22% of the food/drink portion of the bill. What do you folks do...do you tip on the total bill including tax, or on the total without tax? Just curious!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. If you normally tip 20% for good, competent service, no need to tip on the tax. If your tipping scale starts at 15%, then tip on the entire check including tax. If you are getting table service at a really inexpensive place, such as the Chinese lunch combos I regularly get that cost $7.52 including tax and a server has brought me soup, entree, water, and the check, then it should be a couple of bucks minimum, even if that comes to over 25%. If the check is large and a substantial portion is an expensive bottle of wine, then tipping on the bill before tax is ok. If you are a consistent customer and the staff remembers to bring some of your usual requests without you asking (for me that is a large glass of water with lots of ice and the hot sauce) then you are probably tipping ok. If you walk in and a server guides you to a seat that ends up being in another server's section, you may want to rethink your tipping or manners, or hygiene.

    1. I tip on tax. Lots of differing opinions on this: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/488400

      1. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/488400
        This subject was covered to the tune of 101 replies here.
        I won't tip on tax. What special skill, effort, or talent was exhibited in their serving me this tax? None. Why should servers in a place such as Oregon, my home, where there is no sales tax but significant property/income tax suffer an automatic reduction in their tip because the register doesn't automatically inflate the bill? No way.
        And to those who tell me it doesn't really amount to much: I don't care. It's the idea of it. And yes, over time, it does amount to a great deal.

        1. Tax is for the city and state, I tip on the amount before tax, that is the food and bev charge. Also, I hate it when you see the ccard receipt recommending an 18 or 20% calc tip and the calc is done including tax, NOT!

          1. I tip on tax, & do not worry about what others do.

            1 Reply
            1. re: swsidejim

              Amen...I tip on tax, wine, whatever the total bill is. I start at 20% and round up and only round down if there was intentional rudeness or something.

            2. I never tip on tax...That amount gets handed over to the state, nothing to do with service of the meal

              1. Don't listen to your (parsimonious) friends, josephnl. Tip on the total of the entire bill and you will get reservations in the BEST section (with celestial service) in the Hereafter. Yes, I know, a dollar here and a dollar there all adds up, yadda, yadda, yadda....

                1. This always seems like an odd question to me. In effect, even if you figure out the amount of your tip based on the bill including the tax, it is still a tip just on the service for the food/drink. You aren't ever tipping on the tax, you are just using one among many possible ways to figure out your tip for the food/drink..

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Cachetes

                    Of course you are right, it's just a question of whether it's more appropriate to tip 20% or 22% in a nice restaurant.

                    1. re: josephnl

                      Assuming sales tax is 8.9% like in Washington State, were talking about a tax bill of $8.90 for a dinner bill of $100. A tip that includes the tax portion of the bill will increase the amount of the tip by $1.78 on dinner bill of $100. If you can't afford or are to cheap to throw your server an extra buck or two for good service when you have just spent $100 on dinner, you have no business going out to eat.

                      1. re: jpc8015

                        I agree wholeheartedly. If you have to scrimp on the tip in order to be able to afford to eat out, you shouldn't be eating out. Though I'm just as likely to throw an extra couple of bucks down for a $20 meal as I am for a $100 meal.

                        My point is just that, to me, it always seemed like a weird way of going about it.

                        1. re: Cachetes

                          Is a 20% tip scrimping? Or...is 22% more appropriate? Tipping on the gross bill including tax is indeed a 22% tip. That was my whole point in posting this question. Is the new standard 22%...or is is 20% still the appropriate tip for good service at a nice restaurant?

                          I too often leave a bigger tip (25%) for really great service, but that was not my point.

                          1. re: josephnl

                            I personally don't think that 20% is scrimping. It's a nice tip for good service, and is personally what I shoot for (w/less for bad service, and more for great service).

                            But I know that a lot of people here feel very differently. I think that accusations of scroogery for someone tipping 20% that you occasionally see tossed out on Chowhound are a bit overboard. I also think that there are many regions of the country where 15% is considered to be a fine tip by many, so the sort of blanket declarations that appear here at times seem to lack an apprecation of regional diversity. I haven't noticed a class difference in tipping.

                            And of course, there are some who get irritated just b/c you brought the issue up and that others (such as myself) bothered to respond, calling us repetitive, cheap, or pedantic. But I think it's a good question, and one that deserves revisiting, since it is a recurring issue and one that changes over time and place.

                  2. there is a serious sense of entitlement here! I will tell you what!? from now on i will just take the tax on my bill, multiply it by 10, and leave that as a tip. does that make everyone happy?.......btw, I live in Oregon.

                    how about we stop kivetching over inane things like this. just leave a damn tip and be done with it........jeeez

                    1. I usually do not bother to break it all out. I will tip on the wines, and also the tax, unless I feel the need to cut it close, because of poor service.

                      I also figure the full price, and tip on that, should I have a gift certificate, or discount coming.

                      Maybe I'm just lazy.


                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        PS I also will tip on what the full bill should have been, when we have courses comp'ed.


                        Rather than edit my previous post, as CH's site has been loosing my edits, I just replied to my own post.

                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                          If you have a discount or a comp meal I think it is appropriate to tip on the full amount of what the bill would have been. Unless your comp meal is being comped because of deplorable service.

                          1. re: jpc8015

                            I think that even if the comp meal is due to "deplorable service", an appropriate tip should be given assuming the new server does a good job (I can't imagine the restaurant would stick you with the same server who treated you badly the first time).

                            1. re: josephnl

                              I can agree with that, if a new server comes and makes it right I would still tip on what would have been the total bill.

                              1. re: jpc8015

                                OK, I get to reply to all above - three replies in one! I agree completely, I always calculate what I think the tab should be, and then tip on that, based on service. If I am having problems, I always ask the server to let me know what the fare would be, prior to the discount/comp, so I can handle the gratuirity correctly.

                                Yes, it's still based on the service that I got, but should reflect what I *would* have paid.

                                Now, in a very few instances, my servers have seen the coupon, or comp letter, and have then ignored me completely, or even made a few slightly rude comments. In these rare instances, the servers have just shot themselves squarely in their foot.


                      2. as jfood has said in the past, he tips on the largest number on the check. Or the one that is circled. After a relaxing dinner he rarely looks at the difference between pre- and post-tax number.

                        But he does count the number of dishes. On rare occassion he has found 1 more app or entree mysteriously appearing on the bill. And on an even rare occassion he has received the wrong table's bill.

                        But pre or post. Does not move the jfood meter.

                        1. I personally don't tip on tax.. it's a principle thing. Our food and alcohol taxes are high. The server gets 20 to 30% of the total bill pre-tax and I don't think that's anything to complain about.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: NovoCuisine

                            30%, wow....That's more like a commission than a tip!