Dear Bitchy Waiter,
I have read that the tip is calculated on the before-tax amount of a restaurant bill (or other service), but that always seems rather cheap, so I usually tip on the gross amount (i.e., food, drinks, and taxes). Which is the correct way? Do waiters feel snubbed if the tip is based on the before-tax amount?
I Wanna Be a Good Tipper
Dear I Wanna Be a Good Tipper,
First off, thank you for your concern and desire to make sure that you tip your server in a way that will make him or her happy. Many people do not put such thought into their tipping and will simply throw a few dollars onto the table regardless of the total of their bill. I suppose the correct way to tip would in fact be to look at the total before taxes and then figure out 20% of that amount. However, using the total with the tax included does not make a huge difference so I would simply use that number and then round up to the next dollar. Here in New York City, the sales tax is about 8.25% and what a lot of people do is look at the tax amount and then double it making for about a 17% tip. This is fine too except for when you sit at the bar and the drinks do not have tax on them.
Of course the best way to ensure that you are tipping correctly is to do it this way. Look at your total (with tax) and put that number into your calculator (there is probably a calculator function of your cell phone.) Let us say the total is $79.32. Now hit the divide button, then the number two and then the equal button. You should now have a figure that reads $39.66. Round up to the nearest dollar making the total and even $40.00. This is the tip. It's much easier to do this than trying to figure out 15, 17 or even 20%. Math is hard. If this also is too complicated here is another, even easier, method.
Say your total is $32.56. Imagine that the word "total" is actually the word "tip." Round up to the nearest dollar making it $33.00. This is the tip. This way is very simple and will guarantee that your server will be satisfied and also that he will remember your face the next time you come into the restaurant. Should you choose to use this method to calculate your tips, please email me to find out the address of my job so that you can sit in my station. I will love you forever if you use this method. You will be my best friend. I will marry you and have your babies.
The Bitchy Waiter
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