Thanks, Ryan. That link led to IRS Form 8027, which is the form filed by employers who are required to "allocate" tips, and the instructions for that form state:
"You must file Form 8027 if you're an employer who operates a large food or beverage establishment. A large food or beverage establishment is a food or beverage operation: That is located in the 50 states or in the District of Columbia, Where tipping of food or beverage employees by customers is customary, and Whose employer normally employed more than 10 employees on a typical business day during the preceding calendar year. We call this the 10-employee test.
"A food or beverage operation is any business activity which provides food or beverages for consumption on the premises, other than fast food operations. An operation is a fast food operation only if its customers order, pick up, and pay for food or beverages at a counter or window and then carry the food or beverages to another location (either on or off the premises). Some people call food or beverage operations venues, stores, rooms, outlets, or cost centers.
"If you provide food or beverages at more than one location, the activity at each separate location is considered to be a separate food or beverage operation and a separate Form 8027 is filed for each location. You could also have more than one food or beverage operation within a single building. Each activity conducted within a single building is treated as a separate location if the customers of the activity, while being provided with food or beverages, occupy an area separate from that occupied by customers of other activities and the gross receipts from the activity are recorded separately. For example, a gourmet restaurant, a coffee shop, and a cocktail lounge in a hotel would each be treated as a separate food or beverage operation if gross receipts from each activity are recorded separately."
"You must consider the following when completing the worksheet.
"• Include employees at all of your food or beverage operations, even if an individual operation has fewer than 10 employees.
"• Include all employees at your food or beverage operations, not just food or beverage employees.
"• Don't include employees at fast food operations.
"• Don't apply the 10-employee test separately to each food or beverage operation.
So, the way I'm reading this:
- Tips are allocated for "food and beverage operations", which can be sub-units of a larger operation.
- Tips are only allocated for people working in food and beverage operations, not for co-workers who work in sub-units of the same company that are non-food and beverage operations.
- A "fast food" operation is not included, which is essentially one where you buy food at a counter and walk away with it – McDonalds or 7-11, for example.
- An Amtrak dining car is a food operation, the Pacific Parlour car is a beverage operation, cafe cars are a fast food operation, everything else is a non-food and beverage operation.
By that logic, dining car and PPC staff would be subject to allocated tips, but no one else (ignoring for the moment the grey area of sleeping car and coach attendants who bring food to passengers).
That's my hypothesis, anyway. Anyone have any actual facts to test it with?