Do You Tip on Tax at a Restaurant?

tip on tax at restaurants

The age old discussion on whether or not to tip on a restaurant bill pre-tax or after tax. This argument has come up on multiple occasions while out to eat with friends and family, so I wanted to get some other opinions on the matter. I’m all about tipping for good service. I’ll even give 20% if it was mediocre, as long as we got our food in a timely manner, it was warm, and there were no major issues. Honestly, in recent memory, the only time I can remember leaving a less than 15% tip was when when stopped off at a local bar for a nightcap, ordered drinks from our waitress who then proceeded to leave for the night without telling anyone about us… We sat there thinking she died in the back room or something. It wasn’t until the only other waitress in the place came up to take care of the table sitting next to us that we were finally able to question the status of our server… Turns out she had gone home 20 minutes prior… Needless to say, we left next to nothing as a tip since our waitress wasn’t even around. Other than extreme cases like that, I very rarely tip lower than 15-18%, and it’s almost always 20%.

But this is where the argument comes in. I always tip that 20% on the amount before tax. I don’t feel I should have to tip a server for an extra 10% (in some cases) that they had absolutely no control over, and have nothing to do with. I’ve even had friends call me cheap because I refuse to do it. Am I wrong? Should I be tipping based on the final total bill? I’ve also never worked in a restaurant, which a few of my friends have, so I don’t know what is to be expected when it comes to tipping. I just imagine that most people aren’t even tipping 20%, so that should be generous enough. I also don’t make it a point to leave extra if gratuity is already included in the check. If the restaurant felt the need to add the gratuity themselves, I feel that they were expecting me to tip that much, so that’s what they are going to get. Honestly, when a place adds gratuity to the bill on their own, they are cheating themselves as it’s usually 18% as opposed to the 20% I would have given, although I’m not sure if they are adding the gratuity before or after tax…

So what do you guys think, do you tip on the bill pre-tax or the total overall bill? Do you have any reasoning behind why you chose one way or the other?


About the author


I'm a married man in his 30's who doesn't really "like" food. If it weren't for my wife I would be living off of pizza and cheeseburgers for the rest of my life. Follow me as I venture slightly out of my comfort zone to try different foods and restaurants.

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