wallet with money and pen on a table
Should You Tip On The Total Bill At A Restaurant Or The Subtotal?
When eating at a restaurant, the consensus is that you should probably be tipping on the total, but there are arguments in favor of tipping on the subtotal as well.
For sit-down restaurants, tipping on the subtotal is generally considered customary in the U.S. since taxes go to the state or local community, not to the employees directly.
This matter is even further complicated by the sales tax rate, which is downright outrageous in many states. In some states, there is no sales tax, but a "meal tax" is imposed.
For example, if you spend $200 on a meal and the sales tax is 9.5%, the resulting tip would be $19. If you tip 20% on the subtotal versus the total, that's a difference of $3.80.
In theory, tips are the express property of employees. They must report tips on their federal tax returns, and many restaurants require servers to tip out the entire restaurant.
At the end of the day, if you spend three minutes deciding whether to leave an extra three dollars … maybe you should just leave the three dollars.