HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Is tipping in cash better for the server?

My father (from NZ where tipping is *NOT* the norm) is insistent on leaving the tip in cash when on holiday in N Am so that it can't be pocketed by management (he usually pays by credit card). But he'll leave a smaller tip in cash if he doesn't have the correct change on him. I think it's probably better to give the full (15-20%) tip on the credit card. I want to know - does anyone have any experience that would back him (or me) up?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I know as a bartender in college the only tips I declared to the government were credit card tips, I never declared cash :P Thats really the only advantage of getting cash.

    12 Replies
    1. re: twyst

      'cept I think the IRS now estimates your taxable tip income based as a % based on the tabs posted to your station/table (how they determine that beats the heck out of me), so if you're going to leave a standard to low tip, then charge it, if you want to go above and beyond the 20% range then do cash if you have it on you.

      1. re: hill food

        The IRS estimate is only something like 8%. Credit card tips almost always amount to at least 8% of your sales, so its usually not an issue. If for some reason you make less than 8% of your tips in credit card sales youdo have to declare a little of your cash.

        1. re: twyst

          ok I'm sorta cool with that, it at least allows space for the server's tip-out and the inevitable table of stiffs.

          1. re: twyst

            Actually the IRS takes the average of what you receive in credit card tips and assumes that you received the same amount on the cash tips, which sucks because if someone leaves you 10% in cash but you get an 18% average in credit they will assume you made 18%. Legally, you are supposed to declare the total amount that you make, and this is how they determine what should be declared. At least that's my understanding from the suit that Fior d'Italia was in a couple of years ago.

        2. re: twyst

          Yeah, because tax fraud is cool and stuff.

          1. re: jgg13

            Oh give it a rest, cash tips account for a TINY fraction of a servers income in a nice establishment. (like 5-10 percent) You are living in a dream world if you think the majority of people that receive cash tips declare EVERYTHING. I worked a lot of places though my undergrad and graduate school degrees and never met a single person who declared every cent, and working in the bar I was responsible for most of their checkouts so I know what people were making vs claiming.

            Id be willing to bet most of the people who are complaining about this dont declare everyting either. Ever made a bet for $20 on a sporting event and won? Did that make it onto your tax return? Ever had someone pay you in cash for doing them a small favor? Did that make your tax return? Ever been given a gift certificate for doing a good job at work? That needs to be on your tax return too, or else you are committing "tax fraud"

            1. re: twyst

              My brother worked for Pier 39 in SF. He said the average table tip at one of the pier owned restaurants was $20. The head waiter would work 3 months, and take a cruise, . So some waiters really do make good money off tips. This was back in the 80's. I believe they estimated $3,000 a month in tips.

              1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                Not saying they don't, I;m just saying the overwhelming majority of it comes in the form of credit card tips. An average night behind the bar at an upscale restaurant would bring in about $300 for me a decade ago, but $275 of it would be on credit cards.

            2. re: jgg13

              tax-wise I was concerned the server is assessed tax on an estimated 15% of sales which would mean they are paying the tax on the tip-out to the BOH and bar and that's not fair (BOH and bar does deserve a consideration). plus it wouldn't allow for the bad luck run of crotches that believes 10% is just fine, some poor sap would get seated 3 nights in a row.

              1. re: hill food

                Sometimes you get tons of foreigners, get almost nothing, and pay taxes on money you never earned. Its a broken system.

                1. re: twyst

                  agreed, but as you know there are plenty of threads addressing that and as a US-type citizen knowing what I can figure out ( I say to ex-pats and visitors - yes it confuses us as well) a simpler system would be preferred.

              2. re: jgg13


                Let me sum this up...

                Not only do we have to pay our tabs at the restaurant AND a damn near mandatory 20% tip, but we ALSO get to pay servers' part in taxes and such because they choose to defraud the federal and state governments!
                Did I miss anything, like buying their groceries and paying their rent because they are on welfare because of the lack of income because of the tips they're NOT reporting??

            3. Some restaurants wait til the end of the week to dole out the tips from the credit cards rather than daily.

              17 Replies
              1. re: Linda VH

                This is the reason I tend to leave cash, in addition to the cc charges, though I leave the same amount as I would leave on a credit card. I find it bothersome that there are those who would use it to cheat the system and lie on their taxes. I know it probably happens but I don't want to make it more convenient for those who do.

                1. re: Linda VH

                  Why should I help servers evade paying their fair share of taxes by leaving them cash, especially if I am leaving a generous tip?

                  And why whould I care that the server must wait until the end of the week to receive cc tips? We who don't live on tips are paid every other week or even once monthly.

                  1. re: Leonardo

                    "We who don't live on tips are paid every other week or even once monthly."

                    Yes, because you don't live on tips. I can't think of a server/hairdresser/cabdriver in the US who would put up with being paid monthly.

                    The two situations have nothing to do with each other.

                    1. re: Steve

                      I agree with Leonardo. Do people who live on tips pay their rent/mortgage, phone bill, utilities bill, credit card bill, student loans et cetera on a daily basis or monthly like the rest of us?

                      1. re: babette feasts

                        There is no one right way for money to change hands. It depends on the custom of the trade.

                        The relationship between you and your employer/clients has nothing to do with your relationship with the restaurant or server any more than your relationship with the utility company. They are separate transactions.

                        If you are asking everyone to align their practices, then why don't you suggest restaurants in the US pay their waiters on a monthly basis like the mortgage?

                        1. re: Steve

                          I'm not asking anyone to do anything, just saying that everyone has the same basic categories and schedule of where the money they make goes, or at least all the servers I work with seem to. If you make $500 a week, what difference does it make if you get it all on Friday or $100 at a time? Most people in all professions would find getting paid once a month frustrating because they would have to budget much more carefully to make sure it lasted to the end of the month. Getting paid more frequently does make it easier (and I actually have worked for a company that paid us monthly). I don't know how the bi-weekly/semi-monthly pay schedule evolved in the US, but it seems to work for most people. Aside from custom, are there unique needs of servers, taxi drivers, and stylists such that they need X amount of cash on a daily basis and don't pay bills or manage money the way the rest of us do? The back of the house gets paid every two weeks, how are their needs different from the front of the house? I don't understand.

                          1. re: babette feasts

                            I was once in a place that paid monthly - god it killed me, it was six weeks before the first paycheck was going to arrive. it was a good job but if I hadn't begged accounting for an advance I wouldn't have been able to get to work, much less eat. so yeah a little cash in hand would have been nice.

                            1. re: babette feasts

                              i worked for fifteen years on a contract that paid me monthly. Where I work now I get paid weekly. There is no point in discussing all this, because it has zero to do with the question of the OP.

                              If I tip in cash, they get the money immediately. I am not saying I know for sure they prefer this. I'd like to hear more from servers about what they think of the subject of this thread.

                              How often I get paid is irrelevant.

                              1. re: Steve

                                My understanding is that you buy your coke, weed and party drugs with your cash tips and pay your rent and bills with your wage and credit card tips.

                                So were they "let me pitch in for your eight ball" good or just "let me help pay off your student loan" good? that's the question. i bet most people would prefer an eight ball today rather than student loan money paid out weekly.

                          2. re: babette feasts

                            When your paycheck starts varying to a wide degree from one paycheck to the other as it is with server's tips, I think you'd be more inclined to want to be paid right away.

                            Much easier to budget when you have a fixed amount coming at regular intervals.

                        2. re: Leonardo

                          "And why whould I care that the server must wait until the end of the week to receive cc tips? We who don't live on tips are paid every other week or even once monthly."

                          A lot of people take jobs waiting tables in chain restaurants and the like because they need cash in hand on a daily basis. Many are living paycheck to paycheck and find an amount of cash in hand at the end of the day a blessing. I'm talking about students, single moms, etc. At least that was my experience when I waited tables.

                          1. re: Leonardo

                            I'm thinking that if you leave them a generous tip, they won't care if its in cash, credit, paid immediately, or wait a bit; a good tip is a good tip.
                            However "generous" is somewhat subjective.
                            I also think "their fair share of taxes" is also subjective. For many in the service industry, a lot of things are not fair, including perhaps, the tax structure.
                            "Well if they don't like it, tell them to get a good ecucation and do something with their lives"...well sometimes it ain't that easy or simple.

                            You certainly don't HAVE to care, though.

                            1. re: porker

                              " For many in the service industry, a lot of things are not fair, including perhaps, the tax structure."

                              Why is the tax structure not fair to people in the service industry? Is it worst for them than for teachers, firefighters, others? I'm a strong believer that teachers should make more but I don't think it's right for them to cheat on their taxes either.

                              1. re: chowser

                                " For many in the service industry, a lot of things are not fair, including perhaps, the tax structure."

                                2 things: I say "For many" meaning not all and I say "perhaps" meaning it may or may not be fair.
                                You take a single mother of three trying to eak out a living on waitressing pay and tips. Sure the system is supposed to take into account the income bracket, dependants, etc etc. However, it many times does not reflect reality or "fairness". Compare this to teachers, firefighters, and others - is it comparing apples to apples? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Sure you sometimes have the single parent of 3 firefighter, or whatever, but not all circumstances are equal - not everyone fits in one category or another.

                                I think its mostly unfair taxation which drives people to lie/cheat/steal. I live in Quebec (highest taxes in NA) where income tax generally runs over 50%, sales tax runs 15%, and "sin" taxes are through the roof. This has spawned a very large underground economy

                                Is it "right" to cheat on their taxes?
                                In some instances, I say yes.

                                1. re: porker

                                  Taxation would be a lot fairer here in Quebec if it were not for the culture of encouraging people to work under the table. We have a health care system to pay for, and it's really unfair that for every dollar I make I have to contribute to the system where as anyone working for tips or for themselves can basically declare whatever they want on their tax return and screw the rest of us. People who don't pay taxes do get sick and they get services just like the rest of us. In fact, if someone has a family of 4 (2 adults + 2 kids) and they declare an income of 30k, their after tax pay is 40k. So, this person can hide income and end up making even more money from the government as a result.

                                  1. re: hala

                                    It's not just health insurance--it's everything that the government pays for, roads, schools, parks, etc. People who cheat and use the system are usurping what others pay.

                            2. re: Leonardo

                              As a patron of a restaurant, you should care a little bit how the server gets paid. If you want good service, you need a good server.

                              Most restaurants only pay minimum wage, there's rarely health insurance, no sick days without a note from the ER, and all of the other common complaints there are about being a server. The upside to the job is a flexible schedule and cash in hand at the end of the night. Good servers only stick around good places to work. That affects the patron's experience.

                          2. l wouldn't want my tips discounted when someone leave cash. If l read it right he might leave a 10% tip, reduced from an already low end 15% when cash. No as a server l would be insulted.

                            Sure cash is better, no CC charges to the server, but not discounted.

                            1. If I have cash I tip in cash, partly because it reduces the amount I am borrowing. I suspect it is better for the server, though I'd prefer to hear the response of servers.

                              I find it strange to leave a reduced tip if you are worried about management pocketing some of the tip. That is like pre-pocketing the tip for yourself. If management then insists the servers hand in their tips, you have just screwed up your whole strategy.

                              1. I waited tables for about 10 years. Cash v. credit card never was a factor at any of the places I worked, because, as hill food points out, we tip out and get taxed based on sales.

                                1. It depends on the restaurant. My BF is a server, and his restaurant pays out credit card tips twice a month in his paycheck. He strongly prefers cash tips, since he can actually take them home the night of :)

                                  1. On a related note: Do any restaurants "check up on" the servers through what is left as a tip on the CC slips? Meaning do they assess (in part) how good that server is by seeing what customers left as a tip? In such a case if I left cash as a tip I would mark down "zero" on the tip line of the CC slip and the total would be just the food + taxes - so on first blush it looks like I refused to tip the server...if management is looking only at the CC slip... I think in most cases management doesn't do this, as also borne out by comments here which indicate that at least some servers prefer tips in cash. Still, do any restaurants do it?


                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: huiray

                                      You can write "cash" in the tip line to avoid any possible confusion, if you'd like.

                                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                                        Yeah I too write CASH so the server knows there's going to be money on the table when I leave.

                                      2. re: huiray

                                        I've never seen a restaurant that cared what tips you were making as long as you claimed enough of a % not to alert the IRS to anything wonky (it's hard to get an actual number when you work in cash all day and some tips are on cards, so most people just estimate and claim 10% or whatever). All they care about is how much you are selling, and your check average. They wouldn't care if you NEVER got a tip as long as you had high sales and high check averages.

                                        To be clear for those who haven't waited tables, by sales I mean your total sales for the whole shift. The check average is the pressure to get to a certain dollar number per person, which is done by the computer since you have to enter how many guests at each table. That's why if you get an elderly couple who decide to split the cheapest entree and only order coffee and water, a lot of servers will only enter 1 guest because if you enter 2 guests, the check average will be driven way, way down because of the low per-person sales.

                                        1. re: huiray

                                          When I tip cash, but charge the meal, I write the word "CASH" on the line labelled tip. That way the person processing the card (who may not have been my server) doesn'tgive me that dirty look, or talk about me with the surrounding employees believing I don't understand that non-English language being spoken. A few years ago the cashier/hostess who handled my bill at a restaurant where I had tipped in cash told the manager at the desk that I was a cheap bast*rd who had stiffed the waiter. I replied in Spanish that the 'propina' was on the 'mesa' and that the restaurant has lost me as a customer permanently.

                                          1. re: bagelman01

                                            Bully for you. I hope you also told them that you would be telling all your friends how the staff at that place badmouthed customers right in front of them etc.

                                            Thanks also to you and the others above for describing what you all do in the case of a cash tip/charged meal scenario. To date I've almost always included the tip with the charge and on the rare occasions (so far) when I've left a cash tip I never thought of writing in 'cash' on the tip line of the CC slip.

                                            1. re: bagelman01

                                              I wonder: If the IRS audited the server, would all those "cash" notations not work in their favor (if trying to hide from the taxman)? Hopefully they just go by the computer printout and not physical evidence. But I would be leery.

                                            2. re: huiray

                                              I used to work at an upscale chain as a server. They would look at our tip averages when doing employee evaluations, which would affect the responsibilities/sections the servers were given.

                                              Highly doubt it's a common practice, though. Aside from chains that can afford the software, it would be a grueling task to go through all that paperwork.

                                              1. re: Zizi

                                                Aha. So at least one place/chain does it. What happened with the server evaluation in cases where "cash" was written in on the tip line on the CC slip as others above say they have done?

                                                1. re: huiray

                                                  (Same person here. Not sure why I logged in with my old account.)

                                                  Nothing. Wasn't factored in. We were pretty high volume, not cheap, and most people do pay completely with cards, so it really didn't throw off the average.

                                                  I think the restaurants need to keep the original copies at least for a little while, in case of card disputes/chargebacks, but I still doubt that anyone actually leafs through each receipt unless they need to.

                                            3. When I was serving, I worked for several restaurants that would take 3% of my total credit card tips to offset the cost of processing the tip. So if I had $100.00 in tips from credit cards, I only took home $97.00 at the end of the night. I was expected to tip out the bus people on the full amount prior to the 3% adjustment. Their view was that the server should cover the cost of the credit card processing for my their own tip.

                                              I was always happy to see cash.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Whinerdiner

                                                I don't know how long ago this occurred or in what state, but it is against the law to charge the percentage to the employee in many New England states.

                                                DISCLAIMER: I am an attorney and went to law school in Massachusetts and practice in Connecticut

                                                1. re: bagelman01

                                                  Sorry for the delay.

                                                  This was in PA and NJ. The most recent place was about six years ago. I believe several of the servers called the labor board to complain. As far as I know, nothing came of it, and I was there for many years.

                                              2. I believe the actual question being asked was "is tipping in cash better for the server"? It was not, unless my grasp of language is slipping, "is tipping in cash better for the government?" I'd like to know if servers here prefer being tipped in cash or by CC. Several have said cash, because they have it on the spot. Makes sense to me. The question is also not "should servers be paid daily?" presumably because "I'm not paid daily, and they shouldn't be either" ???

                                                1. I served for a long time and tips are tips whether cash or credit. I have never ever ever had a portion of my tips be pocketed by management. I have always tipped out the kitchen, bussers, etc. (and am happy to do so!)
                                                  I was able to take my cash and credit tips home at the end of the night, although being from Nevada we have some more flexible rules for the service industry. Generally the computer system would record our credit card tips for tax purposes. It is only mandatory that you declare a certain percent of tips so generally the credit card tips would be all that I declared. The resaurants that I worked for made sure that the servers declared enough of their tips so that they could avoid being audited.

                                                  So long story short, if you are going to tip less because you don't have much cash I would say definitely go with a credit card.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. You pose an interesting question. There is no question that the server may receive the tip faster and may not declare the income as the establishment is required to do with tips it collects and disburses to employees, BUT...............

                                                    I am not a server (but I have been one in the past-40+ years ago).

                                                    I am interested in what is BETTER for ME, the customer.

                                                    It makes no difference when I dine socially if I tip cash or on the credit card, EXCEPT that I LOSE mileage or cash rewards on the tip. As I dine out often this could amount to hundreds of dollars per year or an airline ticket.

                                                    When I dine out on business, our firm's policy clearly states that I will not reimbursed for non-documented expenses. It's easy to prove the tip on the charge slip, but too many in the past have padded expense reimbursement requests by inflating cash expenditures.

                                                    So, while your concern about the server is admirable, I feel that it may be misplaced.

                                                    1. Since many restaurants pool tips, are servers who say they prefer them in cash because they can take them home right away, hiding the cash tips from the pool?

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: junescook

                                                        That server would be out of a job really fast

                                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                                          or at the least make them EXTREMELY unpopular with co-workers and unlikely to get the table's orders in a timely fashion much less right. when I tended bar I took it to the point if a co-worker technically wasn't on duty just in back counting his/her drawer before ending but still on the clock, I'd divvy up anything new. might have been an earlier customer settling after all. (but that was cash only back then).

                                                      2. A server certainly doesn't have to "share" her cash tips.

                                                        But if she is caught not sharing, I'm not so sure whose wrath is worse -- the IRS or her fellow co-workers.

                                                        When I was a server there was a term for people who did not share tips. "Unemployed".

                                                        1. In diners, etc., where the busboy collects the tip when he cleans off the table, where does it then go?

                                                          2 Replies
                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                              or to the alley where the sh*t is kicked out of him once the co-workers figure out the scam.

                                                              tips is sacred. (sic)

                                                          1. In terms of the original question, if the tip would be too much smaller, I think it would be better to put on the credit card. It won't be pocketed by management, although in some places, especially chains, the management will take roughly 3% of the tip amount to cover the credit card fees. Note that this is NOT like reducing a 15% tip to 12%; the math is different. It's only 3% of the TIP amount.

                                                            So if the choice is between getting a 20% tip on credit card and a 10-15% tip in cash, I think it's pretty obvious that the 20% on card is still better. And the higher the bill, the bigger the difference and thus even more of a reason I'd go ahead and put it on the card.

                                                            My own personal process is to tip in cash at the lowest-priced places, assuming I have the cash which is usually a decent assumption. Especially if it's a pay at cashier place (after eating) instead of pay at the table, it feels better to leave the tip on the table as the convention has always been. (I always wonder how the servers at those places learn they get stiffed or not when people pay with cards and don't leave a cash tip. But then I am prone to be curious about stuff. ;-) I also have set a $5 minimum tip for good service, so even when the breakfast or lunch bill somewhere cheap might be about $16-18 for two of us, I'll tip 5 bucks in cash.

                                                            1. A related question: Does the server see how much the specific diner left when the check is paid with a credit card, or does the server just get a total amount for the entire evening? My husband always wants to leave the tip in cash, and one reason is that he wants our servers to know we tip pretty well, thus ensuring future good service at our regular haunts.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: marisold

                                                                servers remember good tippers regardless how the tip is paid.

                                                                1. re: porker

                                                                  I was thinking of a few places where we pay at the counter on the way out. Just wondered if, in those cases, the server would see how much you added on when you paid with a credit card.

                                                                  1. re: marisold

                                                                    You can always see the tip even when you pay at the counter. The closer will see the original bill amount vs the total paid when they are closing out the bill, if it's not already just split up on the reciept.

                                                              2. I've worked as a server in several restaurants and at most, I walked away with all of my tips nightly--minus the money I tipped out to the bar and bussers.

                                                                However, at my current job (Washington DC) I get my tips via a check twice a month. We are supposed to report all cash tips and keep 75% of any cash tips we receive in pocket....

                                                                With very few diners paying in cash, YES I get excited to see cash payments and cash tips and appreciate those who do leave tips in cash! It's just nice to be able to walk with some money in your pocket in between pay checks. I use cash I get for groceries and gas:)

                                                                PS. Servers at my restaurant and many others tip out 25% of their tips to support staff (bussers and bar). Just thought that was worth a mention.

                                                                1. As a server, I don't really care either way if you are tipping cash or credit card, but if I had to choose, I would actually choose a card because tips are usually better since people will actually calculate 15 or 20% as opposed to just throwing down a $10 or something. It's also faster than making change and bringing it back to the table.

                                                                  I'm not worried about the tax issue... I just claim 10% of my income when I am doing my taxes (note, I said income, not my total sales) and generally wind up getting money back from my return). I should mention though, I live in Canada, not the states.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: wonderflosity

                                                                    We always tip in cash and round up. My son worked in HS at a very chi chi winery restaurant. The owner/manager would decide whether or not to give the tips from the credit cards. My husband and I refused to eat there, and never recommended the restaurant to anyone. It went under after DS got another job. Since then, we ALWAYS tip in cash and unless service was horrid, 20%. I always keep money especially ones to make sure we have a good tip.

                                                                    1. re: The 1st and only KSyrahSyrah

                                                                      I've heard that sort of story before, karma will (and apparently in this case did) bite owners like that in the ass. I have faith in this.

                                                                  2. Thank you all. I learned something for future use, reading this thread. We tip in cash when dining out...I've always written -0- in the tip line. From now on, I'll be writing "in cash".

                                                                    1. First off I 'm a server. I also go to school full time, pay my rent on time and all of my utility bills. I do not use my cash tips for drugs or any other useless things I've read on this tread. What a disgusting statement to make We live on a tight budget because you have no clue from day to day what you will go home with. If you pay us in cash great, if you pay us on charge great. It all spends the same and all turns into cash in my pocket at the end of the night. I pay all of my taxes and I do not live in government housing no my parent s do not pay for it, I'm also not on food stamps.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: roxyorie

                                                                        Makes perfect sense. I rarely tip less than 30 percent. I'll bet you servers who don't cheat on their taxes would rather take the 30 percent on my credit card than 15 percent left in cash by some idiot who smugly thinks he is the most sophisticated diner in the world when in reality he is a clueless fool.

                                                                      2. In the U.S., it's perfectly acceptable to tip on credit card. I do and it's not my business how the restaurant settles up with its employees.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. As a small family restaurant owner, I had to chuckle a bit at the "pocketed by management" part of your question. We do not accept reservations and often have people waiting to be seated. My husband helps clear the tables and "pockets" the tips as he does so... the tips for one server go in the left pocket, the other in the right. At the end of the day, he sorts out the credit card tips, adds in the cash and pays each server. We've actually had customers approach the server in person and hand him/her the tip, so I know it looks like we are confiscating the tips. If we did that, we wouldn't keep good servers for long, so rest easy. The servers get paid in cash either way.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: elegraph

                                                                            We pay our servers their credit card tips at the end of each shift, as do you. However, there are many in our business who hold the credit card tips and disburse them with the employees' paychecks. There are a few unscrupulous restaurateurs who make employees wait an entire month to receive credit card tips. I wonder how much money these people actually make in the "float" on cc tips -- or if they just suffer awful cash flow and need to play around with money that's not theirs in order to pay bills timely. I always tip in cash, unless I know that the restaurant I'm patronizing disburses card tips on a per-shift basis.

                                                                            1. re: shaogo

                                                                              "There are a few unscrupulous restaurateurs who make employees wait an entire month to receive credit card tips."

                                                                              Unless the pay period for the employee is monthly, that would be illegal in California. And given the current interest rates, not much to be gained from the float in that sense. More likely a sign of cash flow problems. My guess is that restaurants that illegally screw their employees on tips will have a serious problem retaining good employees in the long run, in addition to any legal problems, for as long as they are around, which may not be that long.

                                                                              All the restaurants where I hang out pay their servers at the end of the shift so it's not an issue that I lose any sleep over. I just put the tip on my credit card. And in California, the restaurant can't deduct any credit card fees. So unless your mission in life is to encourage restaurant employees to become tax cheats, there is little reason not to get the frequent flyer milage from putting the tip on your credit card.

                                                                          2. Cash payments - whether it is for restaurant service by way of a tip or a payment at home to the plumber - is not an ethical issue for me. Well, not really. Of course, paying that way allows the recipient to not declare the income to the tax authorities, if they so choose.

                                                                            Although a pensioner, I pay enough income tax to feel that I am making my contribution to society. And I never worked in a situation where I was paid in cash, so paid income tax all my working life. I don't really have too much of an ethical hang-up about folk who may or may not choose to pay their full taxes, in nthis situation. But, to be frank, when the plumber comes round and quotes a price, I am likely to ask what is the discount if I pay in cash. We both known what is going on and, occasionally, someone will say there's no discount. Maybe I should try this tactic next time I visit a restauarant. "Tip is 10% if I pay on my card, but how much will you take for a cash tip?"

                                                                            By the by, I'll be the first the accept that I operate to dual standards here. I am extremely critical when rich people and major companies (seemingly mainly American) avoid paying their dues to this country. And I'm also critical when poor people defraud the social benefits system , for instance, declaring that they are not working when in fact they are.