One of my favorite things about dining abroad and in high end restaurants is the fact that service is often included. It’s a refreshing change of pace to reach the end of a fine meal, hand over a credit card and be done without having to bother with math. Sure, I work with spreadsheets and write for a personal finance blog in my spare time, but seriously there are times I just don’t want to deal with figuring out payments. But is it really practical to do away with gratuity? Lets look at the pros and cons.
It would neatly alleviate any question of how much to tip on alcohol, tax, desserts, freebies etc. Interviews with restaurant owners and employees regularly show that the disbursement of tips vary wildly between establishments and opinions on what is proper even more so. Etiquette books like to think they provide some standards but tipping is a custom, not a law, and only enforceable insofar as it is commonly understood. If instead of adding gratuity, a restaurant just added 20% (or whatever upfront, there would be no confusion… And no post-dinner sticker shock when the bill arrived.
Second it would relieve waiters and the IRS of the nightmare of accounting for unrecorded cash transactions and ensure taxes were paid appropriately. If you’re a server with poor sales you’ll be taxed accordingly, as will servers who make bank. Not to accuse all service professionals of taking their cash under the table, but those who do create a problem that ultimately impacts their fellow taxpayers.
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