An informal, unscientific survey of my Facebook friends says that most everyone tips something no matter what type of service they received. Most said they would leave 20 percent as a minimum and more if service or food were above average.

Where Did Tipping Come From Anyway?

The word “Tip” is said to have originated in the 1700’s and is supposed to stand for, “To Insure Prompt Service” or a shorter version “To Insure Promptness.” In those days customers would tip before the meal to insure good and prompt service. Later on consumers discovered that withholding the tip until after the meal worked better because the tip could be increased or reduced depending on the service received not the promptness of that service.

Tipping Around The World

In some countries, tipping is actually considered an insult. It’s like offering welfare to the wait staff or an act of charity. In France, 15% or your bill is added and paid to the staff. In French, the word for “tip” is “Pourboir” that translates to “for a drink.” So it was sort of a “thank you for the good service, have a drink on me.”

A Japanese waitperson might be confused, amused or possibly offended by the offering of a tip. It’s not a part of the Japanese culture and might make them uncomfortable. So if you are heading to far away places with strange sounding names do a little research on when and where to tip and how much.

Tipping and Taxes

Would you like an IRS audit? Just be a waiter or waitress and underreport what the IRS views as the norm on your taxes. Tax audits of food servers have shown a large portion of servers underreport their tip incomes. If you are a business owner Federal Law does not allow you to use tips to make up the difference between an hourly wage and minimum wage. You must pay all servers a legal minimum hourly wage.

Employees that do not receive tips on a regular basis are not allowed to participate in any “tip pool.” A tip pool is when all tips are put in one box and equally distributed by the servers at the end of the shift. Examples of non-eligible employees would be dishwashers, cooks, chefs, bouncers, or cleaning crew. Even though all those people contribute to the success of the business.

As you can imagine this might be a bone of contention for the cooks, busboys and dishwashers. So many businesses share with them and this is where the servers get in trouble by giving up some of their money to employees that are not eligible to receive it as part of their pay. Government always has a way of complicating what should be a simple process.

Some Final Thoughts

People are people. Sometimes things are going good for them sometimes not so good. Most people suck up whatever is going on and put on their professional face but some are not always able to do that as well as others.

Money problems, health problems, family problems are all hard to leave in the parking lot when we go to work. So I look at tipping as paying it forward. If that person makes a buck or two more per hour and that helps make them better servers to the next customer I’m happy with that. What’s your tipping philosophy? Do you tip the same no matter what or does the service raise or lower your bar?

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