So the IRS has changed the rules for the automated tips that many restaurants add to the bill of a large party. This will increase the taxes that they must pay, so many are doing away with the practice. The comments on the story have caused me to revisit my feelings on tips.

A waitress or waiter server writes down what I want and reports that to the kitchen staff. After the staff cooks the food, the server carries it to my table. The other duties of my server include filling my glass and bringing me the check. For this job, the server receives a wage of about $5 an hour from their employer.

My sister works at a TGI Friday’s and tells me that she brings home about $150 a night in tips. I imagine that she doesn’t report all of her cash tips, because many servers do not. This means that she is getting a tax subsidy, and is likely taking home enough cash to equal a $25 per hour wage.

My son in law works as an entertainer for a dinner show in the area, and at this show, there is no ordering of food, as the menu is a preset meal where the only choice is what soft drink you want. He reports to me that the servers get irate if they make less than $100 per show in tips. The venue does one three hour show per night Sunday through Thursday, and two on Fridays and Saturdays. That works out to nearly $40 per hour.

Compare that to the following hourly wages in the Central Florida area:
Paramedics: $13.23
Firemedics: $12.86
Registered Nurse: $24
Vending Machine Repairman: $10.50
Theme park ride operator: $8.35
Security Guard (unarmed): $10.55
Security Guard (armed): $13.25

After thinking about this, I am going to amend my tipping policy. If my party is less than 6 people, my tip for adequate service will be 15% of the check to a maximum of $8. I feel like a table that size taking up about 1/3 of a server’s time for an hour is worth no more than $8. After all, that works out to a gross of about $29 an hour. More than fair.

For a table of more than six, I will divide the number in my party by the number of servers that are taking care of the party, and pay 15% of the tab for adequate service to a maximum of $8 times that number, on the theory that large parties take up a larger amount of the server’s time.

It isn’t my problem that her employer or the other patrons don’t pay them more. If the server has a problem with that, they need to take it up with them. I am just no longer willing to pay someone $40 an hour to carry food around.

Categories: Tipping