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yet another thread on tipping in the diner


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#61 the_traveler

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 01:10 PM

What I was trying to say about the restaurant in the Capitol is that those servers are not State/federal employees, just like Amtrak Dining Car servers (and all Amtrak employees) are not federal employees.

Yes, they may be paid more than other servers, but do you tip a server at La Ritz less than you do one at Joe Slophouse, just because the server at La Ritz is paid more?

As stated, tipping your Dining Car server on Amtrak is voluntary, as it is at Denny’s, IHOP, or any other restaurant.
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Take the train instead and enjoy the ride!

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#62 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 01:55 PM

Yes, they may be paid more than other servers, but do you tip a server at La Ritz less than you do one at Joe Slophouse, just because the server at La Ritz is paid more?

 

Amtrak dining car staff have a base salary that is an order of magnitude more than typical restaurant workers and they also enjoy employment and retirement benefits that vastly exceed those of most Americans. They don't have to worry about handling special requests or cooking your meal a certain way or even knowing what ingredients are used. To be perfectly honest if I ever received Amtrak level service from any Ritz-Carlton I probably wouldn't tip anything at all. In fact I'd likely get my meal comped with a never ending series of apologies. Except that's never actually happened.  Probably because Ritz-Carlton staff are well trained to provide friendly and professional customer-focused service instead of barking instructions and treating customers like a nuisance.


Edited by Devil's Advocate, 06 December 2017 - 06:00 PM.

I used to be with ‘it,’ but then they changed what ‘it’ was. Now what I’m with isn’t ‘it,’ and what’s ‘it’ seems weird and scary.


#63 crescent-zephyr

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 02:40 PM

Yes, they may be paid more than other servers, but do you tip a server at La Ritz less than you do one at Joe Slophouse, just because the server at La Ritz is paid more?

As stated, tipping your Dining Car server on Amtrak is voluntary, as it is at Dennys, IHOP, or any other restaurant.


Well first... The difference in pay for a server from Joes Slop House vs. La Ritz is probably quite minimal. In fact, La Ritz may pay the same because the "extra" income would be from the higher tips due to higher priced meals and alcahol.

A server at an ihop or Denny's makes $2-3 an hour with no benefits.

A server on Amtrak starts at $16 an hour with benefits. Im not sure how anyone could make a comparison between the 2.

(This is an opinion coming from a long term Amtrak rider who always tips unless service is really really bad.)

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#64 Lonestar648

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 08:21 PM

Those that work in restaurants with sit down service can choose the place they want to work.  Many prefer to work at Denny's or IHOP verses say a Chili's or Olive Garden.  Either location is hard work, but the tipping is generally better at the higher priced restaurants.  Some Restaurants the servers share a portion of their tips with the bus boy helping them clear tables and the cooks in the kitchen.  Now on Amtrak, the servers are paid a nicer salary and benefits, but the working conditions are different.  Yes, they choose Amtrak instead of Olive Garden, but also, they are not home every night to be with family, to take care of family needs, so they care compensated for this inconvenience.  Most people could not work the days/hours that the Amtrak staff works because they couldn't be away from their homes. The Amtrak staff have found a way to make it work so their can earn their wages and tips.  I have found some terrific people working in the DC.  Unfortunately, there are some who have a bad attitude that ruin the others. I tip the servers when they do a good job, are friendly, and especially when they remember me.  Having traveled away from home for years and years, over 40 weeks a year, I understand the sacrifices that are made to support the family. Maybe, they have a child in school with ever possible dollar trying to pay the expenses because the available credit is almost maxed out.  I don't have a lot of money, but I appreciate the service received and the effort required.



#65 Skyline

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 11:58 PM

Those that work in restaurants with sit down service can choose the place they want to work.  Many prefer to work at Denny's or IHOP verses say a Chili's or Olive Garden.  Either location is hard work, but the tipping is generally better at the higher priced restaurants.  Some Restaurants the servers share a portion of their tips with the bus boy helping them clear tables and the cooks in the kitchen.  Now on Amtrak, the servers are paid a nicer salary and benefits, but the working conditions are different.  Yes, they choose Amtrak instead of Olive Garden, but also, they are not home every night to be with family, to take care of family needs, so they care compensated for this inconvenience.  Most people could not work the days/hours that the Amtrak staff works because they couldn't be away from their homes. The Amtrak staff have found a way to make it work so their can earn their wages and tips.  I have found some terrific people working in the DC.  Unfortunately, there are some who have a bad attitude that ruin the others. I tip the servers when they do a good job, are friendly, and especially when they remember me.  Having traveled away from home for years and years, over 40 weeks a year, I understand the sacrifices that are made to support the family. Maybe, they have a child in school with ever possible dollar trying to pay the expenses because the available credit is almost maxed out.  I don't have a lot of money, but I appreciate the service received and the effort required.

 

Working conditions certainly ARE different on a train. DC staff are often tasked with working all three meals. They have no choice but to work overtime, especially when trains are late. On LD runs they must be away from home up to six days in a row. They must balance those trays with the strength of a gymnast and the grace of a ballet dancer despite the rock/roll of a train on sometimes questionable track. They survive in a bureaucratic nightmare where creativity, once cherished, is now frowned upon--and where the employee handbook is literally 806 pages thick!. They get stiffed tip-wise a lot more often than wait staff in stationary restaurants do.

 

And despite all this, when I was younger I would have given anything to work on a LD train. Regrets. Never happened.

 

Other OBS staff work hard too, sometimes lucky to get four hours of sleep several nights in a row.

 

Even though they may make more per hour and get better benefits than many people, I don't begrudge anyone working on board Amtrak trains a decent tip unless they go out of their way to show me disrespect.



#66 zepherdude

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 02:35 AM

 

Those that work in restaurants with sit down service can choose the place they want to work.  Many prefer to work at Denny's or IHOP verses say a Chili's or Olive Garden.  Either location is hard work, but the tipping is generally better at the higher priced restaurants.  Some Restaurants the servers share a portion of their tips with the bus boy helping them clear tables and the cooks in the kitchen.  Now on Amtrak, the servers are paid a nicer salary and benefits, but the working conditions are different.  Yes, they choose Amtrak instead of Olive Garden, but also, they are not home every night to be with family, to take care of family needs, so they care compensated for this inconvenience.  Most people could not work the days/hours that the Amtrak staff works because they couldn't be away from their homes. The Amtrak staff have found a way to make it work so their can earn their wages and tips.  I have found some terrific people working in the DC.  Unfortunately, there are some who have a bad attitude that ruin the others. I tip the servers when they do a good job, are friendly, and especially when they remember me.  Having traveled away from home for years and years, over 40 weeks a year, I understand the sacrifices that are made to support the family. Maybe, they have a child in school with ever possible dollar trying to pay the expenses because the available credit is almost maxed out.  I don't have a lot of money, but I appreciate the service received and the effort required.

 

Working conditions certainly ARE different on a train. DC staff are often tasked with working all three meals. They have no choice but to work overtime, especially when trains are late. On LD runs they must be away from home up to six days in a row. They must balance those trays with the strength of a gymnast and the grace of a ballet dancer despite the rock/roll of a train on sometimes questionable track. They survive in a bureaucratic nightmare where creativity, once cherished, is now frowned upon--and where the employee handbook is literally 806 pages thick!. They get stiffed tip-wise a lot more often than wait staff in stationary restaurants do.

 

And despite all this, when I was younger I would have given anything to work on a LD train. Regrets. Never happened.

 

Other OBS staff work hard too, sometimes lucky to get four hours of sleep several nights in a row.

 

Even though they may make more per hour and get better benefits than many people, I don't begrudge anyone working on board Amtrak trains a decent tip unless they go out of their way to show me disrespect.

 

 

Very nicely stated!


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#67 v v

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 05:31 AM

Agree with that sentiment zepherdude



#68 willem

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 09:03 AM

I would still be interested in a definitive answer to the original question: Do dining car servers have to pay taxes on tips that they "should have" (but might not actually have) received?  I.e., if a server works a shift and receives no tips, are they really "paying out of pocket for the privilege of serving you"?
 
My personal philosophy on tipping in the dining car has always been that the prices printed on the menu are irrelevant, because I would never pay those prices for that food if it weren't already included in my sleeper fare.  (I don't eat in the dining car when I travel in coach.)  When it comes time to tip, I don't figure the amount by adding up everything I ordered and calculating a percentage - I usually just leave a few dollars for each meal.  But if it's true that the servers are paying taxes based on a percentage of what I ordered, I'll start paying closer attention to my total "bill."

 
Thanks for attempting to return this thread to the original topic.

 

Let me throw out some numbers. A customer might order items that total $50 on the menu. If the server is assumed to have received 8% of that amount, then the server's imputed income is increased by $4. If the server's total marginal tax rate is 25%, then the server's theoretical tax liability has increased by $1. If the customer tips $1, the server breaks even. It seems like a pretty low bar.

 

Did I analyze that correctly?



#69 cirdan

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 10:58 AM

 

Yes, they may be paid more than other servers, but do you tip a server at La Ritz less than you do one at Joe Slophouse, just because the server at La Ritz is paid more?

 

Amtrak dining car staff have a base salary that is an order of magnitude more than typical restaurant workers and they also enjoy employment and retirement benefits that vastly exceed those of most Americans. They don't have to worry about handling special requests or cooking your meal a certain way or even knowing what ingredients are used. To be perfectly honest if I ever received Amtrak level service from any Ritz-Carlton I probably wouldn't tip anything at all. In fact I'd likely get my meal comped with a never ending series of apologies. Except that's never actually happened.  Probably because Ritz-Carlton staff are well trained to provide friendly and professional customer-focused service instead of barking instructions and treating customers like a nuisance.

 

 

To be fair, I do feel that for the most part Amtrak staff do provide good service.

 

But for those that don't, why not? What's the difference between a Ritz Carlton's training and quality management and that on Amtrak?

 

Ca't Amtrak bring in some Ritz carlton managment and ask them to introduce their training methods? You would think with the higher base salary, that Amtrak should have no difficulty attracting the staff, and can thus take their pick and select the best of the best.

 

Okay, as others have said, the travelling and being away from home and family is a minus. But there are actually quite a few people who don't mind.


Edited by cirdan, 07 December 2017 - 10:58 AM.


#70 cirdan

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 11:01 AM

 

I would still be interested in a definitive answer to the original question: Do dining car servers have to pay taxes on tips that they "should have" (but might not actually have) received?  I.e., if a server works a shift and receives no tips, are they really "paying out of pocket for the privilege of serving you"?
 
My personal philosophy on tipping in the dining car has always been that the prices printed on the menu are irrelevant, because I would never pay those prices for that food if it weren't already included in my sleeper fare.  (I don't eat in the dining car when I travel in coach.)  When it comes time to tip, I don't figure the amount by adding up everything I ordered and calculating a percentage - I usually just leave a few dollars for each meal.  But if it's true that the servers are paying taxes based on a percentage of what I ordered, I'll start paying closer attention to my total "bill."

 
Thanks for attempting to return this thread to the original topic.

 

Let me throw out some numbers. A customer might order items that total $50 on the menu. If the server is assumed to have received 8% of that amount, then the server's imputed income is increased by $4. If the server's total marginal tax rate is 25%, then the server's theoretical tax liability has increased by $1. If the customer tips $1, the server breaks even. It seems like a pretty low bar.

 

Did I analyze that correctly?

 

 

If I order ameal for a value of 50$, to which server is that accounted. Sometimes one server may take my order, another bring it, and a third bring the next course etc.

 

And if the imputed tip is shared, on a diner with 4 staff that would be 0.25$ each.

 

Not that I would ever not tip without a very good reason, mind you, but playing the devil's advocate here.


Edited by cirdan, 07 December 2017 - 11:03 AM.


#71 KmH

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 11:53 AM

But if it's true that the servers are paying taxes based on a percentage of what I ordered, I'll start paying closer attention to my total "bill."

As stated earlier by a member with 30 years experience in the hotel industry (post #2), that only applies to food service or tipped workers paid less than mimimum wage.

Amtrak servers get paid union wages that another member stated start at $16 per hour (post #63).

So Amtrak servers only have to pay tax on their actual income from tips, if they declare that income.


Edited by KmH, 07 December 2017 - 11:59 AM.

1963U. S. Congress - underground trolley system • Disneyland train (1968/various other dates) • Old Tucson steam train (1969)

Amtrak: California Zephyr Coast Starlight •  Southwest ChiefSunset LimitedTexas Eagle • Illinois Zephyr

. . . . . . . Amtrak miles - 16,383, so far.

 

 

 

 

 


#72 willem

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 12:02 PM

As stated earlier by a member with 30 years experience in the hotel industry, that only applies to food service or tipped workers paid less than mimimum wage.

 
The IRS publication and form that were linked earlier did not, as far as I could tell, make this distinction. Perhaps things have changed.



#73 KmH

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 06:19 PM

 

What I was referring to in my post is that large employers with tippable food service employees (Amtrak certainly qualifies) are required to impute 8 % of the gross food service sales as tips and report that amount both on the employee’s W2 form (in Box 8) and to the IRS.


Can anyone confirm or refute the assertion that Amtrak dining car employees are required to report imputed tips? What about sleeping car attendants?

 

Per post #1 the 8% issue is relative to the employer, not the employee.

The IRS publication Ryan references is for tipped employees.
"

Introduction

This publication is for employees who receive tips."


Edited by KmH, 07 December 2017 - 06:20 PM.

1963U. S. Congress - underground trolley system • Disneyland train (1968/various other dates) • Old Tucson steam train (1969)

Amtrak: California Zephyr Coast Starlight •  Southwest ChiefSunset LimitedTexas Eagle • Illinois Zephyr

. . . . . . . Amtrak miles - 16,383, so far.

 

 

 

 

 


#74 anumberone

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 03:04 AM

Why do I get the feeling that more than a few poster on the subject of tipping are looking for a reason to stiff the server.

#75 CAMISSY55

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 03:09 PM

 

What I was referring to in my post is that large employers with tippable food service employees (Amtrak certainly qualifies) are required to impute 8 % of the gross food service sales as tips and report that amount both on the employees W2 form (in Box 8) and to the IRS.

Can anyone confirm or refute the assertion that Amtrak dining car employees are required to report imputed tips? What about sleeping car attendants?
 
Per post #1 the 8% issue is relative to the employer, not the employee.

The IRS publication Ryan references is for tipped employees.
"
Introduction
This publication is for employees who receive tips."

The IRS publication Is for employers, but it's policies and regulations effect directly upon what is reported employee's (s') taxable compensation.

As former self employed and business owners' for much of our lives, my husband began working for someone else about seven years ago. We have lived for extended periods of time out of our home state. Many of the former non-taxable compensation began showing up as taxable last year. The only definitive answers as to the changes (to my business background satisfaction) came from accessing the EMPLOYER IRS publications.

Just my 2 cents. FWIW :-)

Sent from aboard the #4 SOUTHWEST CHIEF. Where although we are over a hour late, all of the OBS staff have been outstanding!

Edited by CAMISSY55, 11 December 2017 - 03:31 PM.


#76 Lonestar648

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 03:24 PM

I really do not care about the IRS rules when I am tipping at a Diner, a nice restaurant, or on Amtrak.  Do i tip more or less to a server who has to pay the restaurant for the food they are ordering for their tables, thus making a percent before the tip is added? I really do not want to know.  I just want a good experience for myself and my guests. 



#77 tricia

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 04:04 PM

Call me an old softie, but I do care and want to know whether my waiter is being paid sub-minimum wage. If so, anything short of abusive behavior gets some money from me to make up the shortfall--and an appropriate amount of money on top of that as a tip for good, better, or excellent service.

 

On Amtrak, I don't feel a need to make up the wage shortfall, and tip only for good or better service.



#78 Bob Dylan

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Posted 11 December 2017 - 08:25 PM

Call me an old softie, but I do care and want to know whether my waiter is being paid sub-minimum wage. If so, anything short of abusive behavior gets some money from me to make up the shortfall--and an appropriate amount of money on top of that as a tip for good, better, or excellent service.
 
On Amtrak, I don't feel a need to make up the wage shortfall, and tip only for good or better service.

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#79 TylerP42

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Posted 12 December 2017 - 11:12 AM

Little late here, but personally I tip with 2 dollar bills to keep it fun -and usually for the amount I spent (or free with sleeper), 2-4 dollars is appropriate.
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#80 KmH

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Posted 12 December 2017 - 11:24 AM

Doing a bit of conservative math it looks that a server on the CZ has the potential to receive:

• about $300 in tips on day 1 (dinner only)

• $500 on day 2 (3 meals)

• and $200 on day 3 (2 meals, fewer pax on train.)

 

That is an average of about $300 a day - for the 6 day round trip of a CZ a total of $1800.

 

I used $1 as the average tip per meal at breakfast, $2 average tip at lunch, and $4 average tip at dinner.

I also assumed a less than full dining car for each meal, and I did not account for the shorter winter consist with 1 less coach & sleeper.

If the train is packed, like during high season, I think the total tips for a server could easily be at least $3000 for the 6 days.  

 

Do they get paid their hourly wage the entire time they are on the train or only when they are on duty?

I wonder too how many hours each day a server on the CZ would be on duty?

 

IIRC, while they are on the train (CZ) for 6 consecutive days, they then don't work again for a week or a week and a half.

In other words there are 12 or more crews for the 6 CZ trains that are en-route each day.


Edited by KmH, 12 December 2017 - 11:33 AM.

1963U. S. Congress - underground trolley system • Disneyland train (1968/various other dates) • Old Tucson steam train (1969)

Amtrak: California Zephyr Coast Starlight •  Southwest ChiefSunset LimitedTexas Eagle • Illinois Zephyr

. . . . . . . Amtrak miles - 16,383, so far.

 

 

 

 

 





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