In the bustling world of employment, the nuances of handling employee tips often pose a challenge for employers. This comprehensive guide is crafted to demystify the complexities surrounding the withholding and reporting of employee tips in the United States. We aim to provide clarity in simple English, ensuring that employers can navigate this aspect of their financial responsibilities with ease.

Employee Tips-Withholding and Reporting

Understanding Employee Tips Reporting

Tips, often considered an integral part of certain industries, come with specific reporting requirements that employers must adhere to. Let’s unravel the key aspects of withholding and reporting employee tips.

Employee Tips Reporting Thresholds

Employees receiving cash tips of $20 or more in a calendar month are obligated to report the total amount of tips to their employers. The report, due by the tenth day of the following month, is a written declaration. However, employees receiving less than $20 in tips for a calendar month aren’t required to report to the employer but must include these amounts in their tax returns.

What Constitutes Cash Tips?

Cash tips encompass various forms of gratuities, including those received directly from customers, tips from other employees under tip-sharing arrangements, and charged tips (e.g., credit and debit card charges) distributed to the employee.

Service Charges vs. Tips

Service charges, obligatory payments added to a bill by the employer, are distinct from tips. When paid to an employee, service charges are classified as non-tip wages. These non-tip wages are subject to social security tax, Medicare tax, and federal income tax withholding.

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Common examples of service charges include large party charges in restaurants, bottle service charges in restaurants and nightclubs, room service charges in hotels and resorts, contracted luggage assistance charges in hotels and resorts, and mandated delivery charges in retail deliveries.

Employee Tips Recordkeeping

To facilitate proper reporting, employees can utilize Form 4070A (Employee’s Daily Record of Tips) to maintain a daily record and Form 4070 (Employee’s Report of Tips to Employer) to report tips to the employer. Employers may also implement alternative electronic systems for tip reporting.

Employee Tips Withholding Taxes

Upon receiving tip reports from employees, employers must calculate social security, Medicare, and income taxes to withhold for the pay period on both wages and reported tips. Employers are responsible for paying the employer’s portion of social security and Medicare taxes.

Additional Medicare Tax

The Additional Medicare Tax, applying to Medicare wages exceeding a threshold, requires employers to withhold 0.9%. This applies to wages paid in excess of $200,000 in a calendar year, without considering the filing status of the taxpayer.

Unpaid Taxes

In instances where there’s insufficient money from employee wages and funds to cover taxes, a specific order of withholding is prescribed. It includes all taxes on the employee’s wages (exclusive of tips), social security, Medicare, Additional Medicare on reported tips, and federal, state, and local income taxes on reported tips.

If there’s difficulty collecting all social security and Medicare taxes on tips by the 10th day of the month following the reporting month, employers aren’t obligated to collect these taxes. Instead, employers must adjust their employment tax return accordingly.

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Employee Tips Allocated Tips

Large food or beverage establishments must file Form 8027 for each calendar year and may be required to allocate tips to employees. Allocated tips must be reported on Form W-2 in the “Allocated Tips” box for the respective employee.

Tip Rate Determination and Education Program

The IRS has implemented the Tip Rate Determination and Education Program (TRD/EP) to enhance tax compliance through educational programs and voluntary tip reporting agreements. The Service Industry Tip Compliance Agreement (SITCA) program is proposed to replace certain existing programs.


Mastering the intricacies of withholding and reporting employee tips is crucial for employers in service-oriented industries. This guide serves as your compass, offering insights and guidelines to ensure compliance with tax obligations. Stay informed, implement best practices, and foster a transparent system that benefits both employers and employees. For further details, refer to relevant IRS publications and guidelines. Happy navigating!

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