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Tips in Toronto restaurants: 15% before tax? 10% after tax? or, 15% after tax? (moved from Ontario)

When a couple of my friends met this weekend, we found that we each tip differently at the restaurant. Would you know which number is the universal rule in Toronto restaurants? Many thanks!

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  1. There is no universal rule, but I think the old standard is 15% before tax. My personal rule is 20% after tax.

      1. I tip minimum 15% after tax, 20% if the service was memorable or if the bill is approx $40 or under...

        1. The general rule is 15% before tax but I usually do 15% after tax which comes up to about 18%...unless the service was exceptional or I'm a regular, then it's 20-25% post tax.

          8 Replies
          1. re: ctl98

            Sorry but I find most people in Toronto way over tip, thereby subsidizing the owners for an essential part of their operation. Wait staff, bus boys and others who share in the tip pool are no different to me than other basic expenses of operating an eatery: rent, decor, cost of food and so forth. I do not pay a rent charge, a flower supplement, a glassware fee or otherwise subsidize its essentials. I expect the food and my evening overall will cost more at the
            Fifth Grill or in a spot designed by some trendy decorator, staffed by professionals and offering starched linens than it will at Dangerous Dan's. I am resigned to paying a 15% pre-tax and pre-wine tip (unless the waiter decants it and brings out the best crystal as at Le Select when I am happy to add another $5-10 - it takes no more time or energy to serve my amarone than it does my usual chateau plonk 2011.) For outstanding service I will up this. Sorry folks, the waiter and similar staff constitute part of the package; if they need to make more, then owners should pay them better and adjust meal charges accordingly. A lot of those who tip routinely above my level are imho doing so out of well-intended but unnecessary guilt.

            Dangerous Dan's
            714 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M1H2, CA

            Le Select
            432 Wellington St W, Toronto, ON M5V1E3, CA

            1. re: Bigtigger

              So if you don't tip more for expensive wine why would you tip more for a fancy meal then you would a burger at Dangerous Dans? as it does not take any more time or energy to deliver a burger and fries to your table then it does to deliver caviar and toast?

              I tip 20% after tax because I know how hard these people work and that is the way of the industry... if you want all restaurants to raise their prices 20% and offer no tipping all the power to you but for me I would rather have that power in my hand and give the wait staff incentive to do their best for me.

              1. re: Bigtigger

                I'm with you Bigtigger regarding tips subsidizing the owners.As an aside, I am not a fan of tipping on tax. Why should I tip on the amount the government is extracting from me? Generally if the service is good to very good I will leave anywhere between 15% to 20% pre-taxes.

                1. re: Bigtigger

                  i tip 20% post tax. This ensures that I get the best and preferred service the NEXT time and the time after that and after that. payment brings priveleges.....

                  1. re: ingloriouseater

                    Infglorious, unless you are a major corporate diner or eat out at the same places several times a month or more, I think you feeling you get "best and preferred" treatment and "privileges" is a fantasy. What do you mean by these terms? I eat out once or twice a month and get pretty good service (at good restaurants) and the occasional freebie (glass of limoncello, bottle of wine) despite my tipping 15% pre-tax, as like Juno and Toboggan, the government's extortionate tax rates have no bearing on food or service.

                    1. re: Bigtigger

                      I dine out at least 5 nights per week, lunch everyday. I do have regular haunts and as a result, I do get preferred service. My name is known, my likes and dislikes are known and I can often see that my orders become priority over others. I can get a table when others don't or can't, I regularly get sneak previews of items not on the menu yet, free wine or drinks. I get invited to new restaurant and bar openings, sporting events, wine shows at no cost to me. I will continue to enjoy my fantasy.

                      1. re: ingloriouseater

                        I date a fine dining chef and I cringe when these thing happen to us. I hate being known. I would really like to go to a local resto and not have it be a production.

                        I know, I know a million tiny violins are playing just for me but truly it makes me UNCOMFORTABLE!!! ;-)

                        1. re: JennaBean

                          trust me that there is no production to speak of, i am treated well and in turn i treat the restaurant staff well, i respect what they do and feel they should be rewarded and i reward them financially and with a thank you and good manners. i am not the boisterous type who demands a table when clearly one isn't available. when i make a reservation (which i always do unless there is a no reservation policy) and i manage to get 'squeezed in'. If no table is available, no problem, i'll find another place....i am fairly easy going-really

                          i can relate to jennabeans concern....there is funny video on youtube that kind of relates to the boorish person with a sense of entitlement


              2. 15% after tax and generously round up or down depending on service.

                Does anybody know how the pay terminals work? If you choose to tip a % of say 15, does it calcualte it pre or post tax?

                1 Reply
                1. I generally tip 15 to 20 percent before tax.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: JennaBean

                    15-25% before tax, based on quality of service and how much work was required of the server. I occasionally tip less than 15%, when I want my server to know that I thought the service didn't merit much, tip-wise.

                    1. re: JennaBean

                      I simply can't bring myself to actually tip on a tax. I tip on the pre-tax amount, adding at least 15% - or more for service above and beyond the call of duty. I rarely go above 20%. Besides, I like the challenge of figuring out what constitutes 15% or more after downing several glasses of wine with dinner. If I bring my own bottle to a resto that allows bring-your-own-wine at no charge, I'll add $5-$6 to the tip to make up for the server's shortfall in such a circumstance. I've read the occasional newspaper story in which restaurant owners insist 20% is now the norm in Toronto, but I don't believe it. I suspect it's just restaurateurs' self-serving propaganda. All - absolutely all - of my friends and acquaintances, many of whom are well-heeled enough to eat out regularly, do about 15% before tax, no matter what the level of restaurant.

                    2. This topic makes me want to go work in Toronto.... I'm working as waitstaff in Detroit, people tip a standard of Tax here, 6.5% (Other cross border Canadians tip 15%, but it's rare) and I make 4.75 if I make good tips, 7.40 if no one tips... Which isn't that uncommon, a lot of people here feel waitstaff are just an essential service and merit no extra payment. I should have worked in Toronto when I was there for school.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: UTSGWindsor

                        I don't understand folks worries that they are tipping on amounts pre- or post tax: the government is NOT getting any of it! The tip is supposed to be a gratuity to the wait staff person who served you, but of course it is now so bastardized as to be unrecognizable. Servers constantly complain of how they have to tip out to the runner, bus boy, bartender and owner.
                        When they do their tax returns like the rest of us, all this income conveniently disappears. Actually I understand it usually disappears the night they receive it, leading to the immpression that servers are poor. Time ot remedy the situation and make the price you pay include whatever costs are necessary INCLUDING service staff.

                        1. re: Danybear

                          Servers still get paid a "servers wage" of $8.90 an hour were noraml min wage is $10.25. If you want it all in on the cost you pay, I would expect that each and every dinning expereince you have would increase about 25% across the board. Are you ok with that?

                          I actually like the idea of tipping. I get to chose how much I want to give based on the service I did (or didn't) get by that specific server.

                          1. re: JennaBean

                            "If you want it all in on the cost you pay, I would expect that each and every dinning expereince you have would increase about 25% across the board."

                            I don't understand this logic. If service were included in the prices, the new price would equal the old price plus the old tip. With the new price, you wouldn't have to pay a new tip, so the total cost of the dining experience should be the same in both scenarios. (This would not be the case if you currently tip less than the service that would be automatically included in the new price, ie. the "old tip".)

                            If any restaurant actually jacked their prices 25% and eliminated tipping (ie. a mandatory 25% tip), I think many customers would balk, resulting in lost business, and probably the 25% being reduced to a more conventional amount.

                            $10.25 is almost exactly 15% above $8.90, so paying all servers normal minimum wage is equivalent to "servers wage" plus 15% . Since the servers' wages are only one part of the total cost of running a restaurant, and by extension only one part of the diner's bill, paying servers normal minimum wage would result in less than a 15% increase in the total bill, since you would only be adding 15% onto a certain part of the old bill, and not onto the entire old bill.

                            1. re: dump123456789

                              you certainly wouldn't get any (good anyway) service staff at $10.25 per hour without tips....splendido with mcdonalds service....

                              1. re: ingloriouseater

                                I don't get it. I'm seeing a lot of references to 15% tipping, and I assume that's probably the norm (CH-ers seem to tip above the norm). $8.90 + 15% is less than $10.25. Why would you get better service for less ? Why should you provide better service for less ? Do the occasional >15% tippers so significantly overcompensate for the more frequent <15% tippers ?

                                1. re: dump123456789

                                  i certainly hope they do. It is a difficult job and should be rewarded. (I don't know if CHers tip more or less-most people who post publicly say they are big tippers but in reality rarely are)

                                  Should servers make at least the same minimum wage-you bet but even if they did...one definition of TIP is 'To Insure Promptness'. If your server or bartender gets to know you and how you tip, the bigger it is the more they will do for you. Is this right? Probably not-but it works or at least it works for me. It doesn't work so well for the cheaper or more frugal or unaware people...it is because of people like me who get preferred service that many people complain about the poor service they recieve. If the server only has 4 tables and the four tables are tipping +=20%, 15%, 10% and -10%, then where do you think that waiter is going to spend most of their time....with me-the big tipping big cheque table-sorry but that is often the reality.

                                  1. re: ingloriouseater

                                    I agree that good servers should receive good pay. But there are plenty of workers in service industries who earn good pay through their wages/salaries alone and not through tips. They are treated and expected to act professionally, and if they don't, they are dismissed.

                                    I prefer the European model - service included. I've rarely ever had a problem with service in Europe, even though the "tip" part of the server's pay was out of my control. I've never felt servers upgraded their service to "preferred" diners at the expense of the service to me. And in the occasional instances of bad service, it seemed to be bad for everyone, and was usually just a small part of an overall set of problems with those places. So, I would simply judge the whole experience as not worth the money, and I never thought "well, if I could have just tipped less, I would have felt better about my experience".

                                    So, my overall view is that servers should be paid profesionally, service should be included in prices, servers should be fired if they underperform, additional tipping should be allowed as long as service to non-additional tippers is not impacted, and I will avoid any place where service is below an acceptable standard (when taken in consideration together with price and quality of food).

                      2. Interesting.....we live on the US side of the border that is very popular with Canadians from Toronto. They are nortoriously poor tippers and often dont tip at all. Servers are often told that they don't have to tip in Canada. We don't frequent the Canadaian side much any more due to the hassle of the passport requirement, so we have dined there in years, so we just assumed that was indeed the fact!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: kitchendeeva

                          Can't respond on this as I've never been to the States, although find it an interesting assessment of an entire country.

                        2. Not sure what the rule is for Toronto. I live in Mississauga and dine in the GTA. Usually 15% before tax, although could be more or less depending on service. The 15% tax we used to have was only great for the purpose of giving me the tip amount without me having to do the math.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: fryerlover

                            I know where I live on the Canadian side of the border it's usually 15% before tax, it could just be Detroit's depressed core, but I usually get 6.5% I only bother to work in the D because I'm a grad student at WSU, and I can work there without having to report it for my Canadian student loans (OSAP doesn't care, advantage to living in a border city I guess.)