Publication 531 - Main Content


Keeping a Daily Tip Record

Why keep a daily tip record.   You must keep a daily tip record so you can:
  • Report your tips accurately to your employer,

  • Report your tips accurately on your tax return, and

  • Prove your tip income if your return is ever questioned.

How to keep a daily tip record.   There are two ways to keep a daily tip record. You can either:
  • Write information about your tips in a tip diary, or

  • Keep copies of documents that show your tips, such as restaurant bills and credit or debit card charge slips.

You should keep your daily tip record with your tax or other personal records. You must keep your records for as long as they are important for administration of the federal tax law. For information on how long to keep records, see How Long to Keep Records in chapter 1 of Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax.

   If you keep a tip diary, you can use Form 4070A, Employee's Daily Record of Tips. To get Form 4070A, ask the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or your employer for Publication 1244, Employee's Daily Record of Tips and Report to Employer. Publication 1244 is also available at www.irs.gov/pub1244. Publication 1244 includes a 1-year supply of Form 4070A. Each day, write in the information asked for on the form. A filled-in Form 4070A is shown on the following page.

  In addition to the information asked for on Form 4070A, you also need to keep a record of the date and value of any noncash tips you get, such as tickets, passes, or other items of value. Although you do not report these tips to your employer, you must report them on your tax return.

  If you do not use Form 4070A, start your records by writing your name, your employer's name, and the name of the business (if it is different from your employer's name). Then, each workday, write the date and the following information.
  • Cash tips you get directly from customers or from other employees.

  • Tips from credit and debit card charge customers that your employer pays you.

  • The value of any noncash tips you get, such as tickets, passes, or other items of value.

  • The amount of tips you paid out to other employees through tip pools or tip splitting, or other arrangements, and the names of the employees to whom you paid the tips.

Sample Filled-in Form 4070A from Publication 1244
Please click here for the text description of the image.

Sample Filled-in Form 4070A from Publication 1244

Electronic tip record.   You can use an electronic system provided by your employer to record your daily tips. If you do, you must receive and keep a paper copy of this record.

Service charges.    Do not write in your tip diary the amount of any service charge that your employer adds to a customer's bill and then pays to you and treats as wages. This is part of your wages, not a tip. The following factors determine if you have a tip or service charge:
  • The payment is made free from compulsion,

  • The customer has the right to determine the amount of payment,

  • The payment is not subject to negotiation or dictated by employer policy, and

  • The customer generally has the right to determine who receives the payment.

See examples below.

Example 1.

Good Food Restaurant adds an 18% charge to the bill for parties of 6 or more customers. Jane's bill for food and beverages for her party of 8 includes an amount on the tip line equal to 18% of the charges for food and beverages, and the total includes this amount. Because Jane did not have an unrestricted right to determine the amount on the “tip line,” the 18% charge is considered a service charge. Do not include the 18% charge in your tip diary. Service charges that are paid to you are considered wages, not tips.

Example 2.

Good Food Restaurant includes sample calculations of tip amounts at the bottom of its bills for food and beverages provided to customers. David's bill includes a blank “tip line,” with sample tip calculations of 15%, 18%, and 20% of the charges for food and beverages at the bottom of the bill beneath the signature line. Because David is free to enter any amount on the “tip line” or leave it blank, any amount he includes is considered a tip. Be sure to include this amount in your tip diary.

Sample Filled-in Form 4070 from Publication 1244

Reporting Tips to Your Employer

Why report tips to your employer.   You must report tips to your employer so that:
  • Your employer can withhold federal income tax and social security, Medicare, Additional Medicare, or railroad retirement taxes;

  • Your employer can report the correct amount of your earnings to the Social Security Administration or Railroad Retirement Board (which affects your benefits when you retire or if you become disabled, or your family's benefits if you die); and

  • You can avoid the penalty for not reporting tips to your employer (explained later).

What tips to report.   Report to your employer only cash, check, and debit and credit card tips you receive.

  If your total tips for any 1 month from any one job are less than $20, do not report the tips for that month to that employer.

  If you participate in a tip-splitting or tip-pooling arrangement, report only the tips you receive and retain. Do not report to your employer any portion of the tips you receive that you pass on to other employees. However, you must report tips you receive from other employees.

  Do not report the value of any noncash tips, such as tickets or passes, to your employer. You do not pay social security, Medicare, Additional Medicare, or railroad retirement taxes on these tips.

How to report.   If your employer does not give you any other way to report your tips, you can use Form 4070, Employee's Report of Tips to Employer. Fill in the information asked for on the form, sign and date the form, and give it to your employer. A sample filled-in Form 4070 is shown above. To get a 1-year supply of the form, ask the IRS or your employer for Publication 1244.

  If you do not use Form 4070, give your employer a statement with the following information.
  • Your name, address, and social security number.

  • Your employer's name, address, and business name (if it is different from your employer's name).

  • The month (or the dates of any shorter period) in which you received tips.

  • The total tips required to be reported for that period.

You must sign and date the statement. Be sure to keep a copy with your tax or other personal records.

  Your employer may require you to report your tips more than once a month. However, the statement cannot cover a period of more than 1 calendar month.

Electronic tip statement.   Your employer can have you furnish your tip statements electronically.

When to report.   Give your report for each month to your employer by the 10th of the next month. If the 10th falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, give your employer the report by the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.

Example.

You must report your tips received in September 2015 by October 13, 2015.

Final report.   If your employment ends during the month, you can report your tips when your employment ends.

Penalty for not reporting tips.   If you do not report tips to your employer as required, you may be subject to a penalty equal to 50% of the social security, Medicare, Additional Medicare, or railroad retirement taxes you owe on the unreported tips. (For information about these taxes, see Reporting social security, Medicare, Additional Medicare, or railroad retirement taxes on tips not reported to your employer under Reporting Tips on Your Tax Return, later.) The penalty amount is in addition to the taxes you owe.

  You can avoid this penalty if you can show reasonable cause for not reporting the tips to your employer. To do so, attach a statement to your return explaining why you did not report them.

Giving your employer money for taxes.   Your regular pay may not be enough for your employer to withhold all the taxes you owe on your regular pay plus your reported tips. If this happens, you can give your employer money until the close of the calendar year to pay the rest of the taxes.

  If you do not give your employer enough money, your employer will apply your regular pay and any money you give to the taxes, in the following order.
  1. All taxes on your regular pay.

  2. Social security, Medicare, Additional Medicare, or railroad retirement taxes on your reported tips.

  3. Federal, state, and local income taxes on your reported tips.

   Any taxes that remain unpaid can be collected by your employer from your next paycheck. If withholding taxes remain uncollected at the end of the year, you may be subject to a penalty for underpayment of estimated taxes. See Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax, for more information.

  
Uncollected taxes. You must report on your tax return any social security and Medicare taxes, or railroad retirement taxes that remained uncollected at the end of 2014. These uncollected taxes will be shown on your 2014 Form W-2. See Reporting uncollected social security, Medicare, Additional Medicare, or railroad retirement taxes on tips reported to your employer under Reporting Tips on Your Tax Return, later.

Tip Rate Determination and Education Program

Your employer may participate in the Tip Rate Determination and Education Program. The program was developed to help employees and employers understand and meet their tip reporting responsibilities.

There are two agreements under the program: the Tip Rate Determination Agreement (TRDA) and the Tip Reporting Alternative Commitment (TRAC).

If you are employed in the gaming industry, your employer may participate in the Gaming Industry Tip Compliance Agreement Program. See Rev. Proc. 2007-32, 2007-22 I.R.B. 1322, available at www.irs.gov/irb/2007-22_IRB/ar13.html.

Your employer can provide you with a copy of any applicable agreement. To find out more about these agreements, visit IRS.gov and enter “restaurant tip reporting” in the search box. You may also call 1-800-829-4933, visit www.irs.gov/localcontacts for the IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center in your area, or send an email to Tip.Program@irs.gov and request information on this program.

Reporting Tips on Your Tax Return

How to report tips.   Report your tips with your wages on Form 1040, line 7; Form 1040A, line 7; Form 1040EZ, line 1; Form 1040NR, line 8; or Form 1040NR-EZ, line 3.

What tips to report.   Generally, you must report all tips you received in 2014 on your tax return, including both cash tips and noncash tips. Any tips you reported to your employer as required in 2014 are included in the wages shown in box 1 of your Form W-2. Add to the amount in box 1 only the tips you did not report to your employer.

  However, any tips you received in 2014 that you reported to your employer as required after 2014 but before January 11, 2015, are not included in the wages shown in box 1 of your 2014 Form W-2. Do not include the amount of these tips on your 2014 tax return. Instead, include them on your 2015 tax return. Tips you received in 2013 that you reported to your employer as required after 2013 but before January 11, 2014, are included in the wages shown in box 1 of your 2014 Form W-2. Although these tips were received in 2013, you must report them on your 2014 tax return.

  If you participate in a tip-splitting or tip-pooling arrangement, report only the tips you receive and retain. Do not report on your income tax return any portion of the tips you receive that you pass on to other employees. However, you must report tips you receive from other employees.

  
If you received $20 or more in cash and charge tips in a month and did not report all of those tips to your employer, see Reporting social security, Medicare, Additional Medicare, or railroad retirement taxes on tips not reported to your employer, later.

  
If you did not keep a daily tip record as required and an amount is shown in box 8 of your Form W-2, see Allocated Tips, later.

  If you kept a daily tip record and reported tips to your employer as required under the rules explained earlier, add the following tips to the amount in box 1 of your Form W-2.
  • Cash and charge tips you received that totaled less than $20 for any month.

  • The value of noncash tips, such as tickets, passes, or other items of value.

Example.

Ben Smith began working at the Blue Ocean Restaurant (his only employer in 2014) on June 30 and received $10,000 in wages during the year. Ben kept a daily tip record showing that his tips for June were $18 and his tips for the rest of the year totaled $7,000. He was not required to report his June tips to his employer, but he reported all of the rest of his tips to his employer as required.

Ben's Form W-2 from Blue Ocean Restaurant shows $17,000 ($10,000 wages + $7,000 reported tips) in box 1. He adds the $18 unreported tips to that amount and reports $17,018 as wages on his tax return.

Reporting social security, Medicare, Additional Medicare, or railroad retirement taxes on tips not reported to your employer.    If you received $20 or more in cash and charge tips in a month from any one job and did not report all of those tips to your employer, you must report the social security, Medicare, and Additional Medicare taxes on the unreported tips as additional tax on your return. To report these taxes, you must file Form 1040, Form 1040NR, Form 1040-PR, or Form 1040-SS (not Form 1040A, Form 1040EZ, or Form 1040NR-EZ) even if you would not otherwise have to file.

   Use Form 4137, Social Security and Medicare Tax on Unreported Tip Income, to figure social security and Medicare taxes and/or Form 8959, Additional Medicare Tax, to figure Additional Medicare Tax. Enter the tax(es) on your return as instructed, and attach the completed Form 4137 and/or Form 8959 to your return.

If you are subject to the Railroad Retirement Tax Act, you cannot use Form 4137 to pay railroad retirement tax on unreported tips. To get railroad retirement credit, you must report tips to your employer.

Reporting uncollected social security, Medicare, Additional Medicare, or railroad retirement taxes on tips reported to your employer.    You may have uncollected taxes if your regular pay was not enough for your employer to withhold all the taxes you owe and you did not give your employer enough money to pay the rest of the taxes. For more information, see Giving your employer money for taxes , under Reporting Tips to Your Employer, earlier.

  If your employer could not collect all the social security and Medicare taxes, or railroad retirement taxes you owe on tips reported for 2014, the uncollected taxes will be shown in box 12 of your Form W-2 (codes A and B). You must report these amounts as additional tax on your return.

  If you worked in the U.S. possessions and received Form W-2AS, Form W-2CM, Form W-2GU, or Form W-2VI, any uncollected taxes on tips will be shown in box 12 with codes A and B. If you received Form 499R-2/W-2PR, any uncollected taxes will be shown in boxes 22 and 23. Unlike the uncollected portion of the regular (1.45%) Medicare tax, the uncollected Additional Medicare Tax is not reported on Form W-2.

  To report these uncollected taxes, you must file Form 1040NR, Form 1040-PR, or Form 1040-SS (not Form 1040A, Form 1040EZ, or Form 1040NR-EZ) even if you would not otherwise have to file. You can report these taxes on Form 1040, in the space next to line 62, or the corresponding line of Form 1040NR, Form 1040-PR, or Form 1040-SS (not Form 1040A, Form 1040EZ, or Form 1040NR-EZ). See the instructions for these forms for exact reporting information.

Self-employed persons.    If you receive tips as a self-employed person, you should report these tips as income on Schedule C or C-EZ. See Publication 334, Tax Guide for Small Business, for more information on reporting business income.

Allocated Tips

If your employer allocated tips to you, they are shown separately in box 8 of your Form W-2. They are not included in box 1 with your wages and reported tips. If box 8 is blank, this discussion does not apply to you.

What are allocated tips.   These are tips that your employer assigned to you in addition to the tips you reported to your employer for the year. Your employer will have done this only if:
  • You worked in an establishment (restaurant, cocktail lounge, or similar business) that must allocate tips to employees, and

  • The tips you reported to your employer were less than your share of 8% of food and drink sales.

No income, social security, Medicare, Additional Medicare, or railroad retirement taxes are withheld on allocated tips.

How were your allocated tips figured.   The tips allocated to you are your share of an amount figured by subtracting the reported tips of all employees from 8% (or an approved lower rate) of food and drink sales (other than carryout sales and sales with a service charge of 10% or more). Your share of that amount was figured using either a method provided by an employer-employee agreement or a method provided by IRS regulations based on employees' sales or hours worked. For information about the exact allocation method used, ask your employer.

Must you report your allocated tips on your tax return.   You must report tips you received in 2014 (including both cash and noncash tips) on your tax return as explained in What tips to report , earlier. Any tips you reported to your employer in 2014 as required (explained under Reporting Tips to Your Employer , earlier) are included in the wages shown in box 1 of your Form W-2. Add to the amount in box 1 only the tips you did not report to your employer as required. This should include any allocated tips shown in box 8 on your Form(s) W-2, unless you have adequate records to show that you received less tips in the year than the allocated amount.

  See What tips to report under Reporting Tips on Your Tax Return, and Keeping a Daily Tip Record , earlier.

How to report allocated tips.   If you received any tips in 2014 that you did not report to your employer as required (including allocated tips that you are required to report on your tax return), add these tips to the amount in box 1 of your Form(s) W-2 and report this amount as wages on Form 1040, line 7; Form 1040NR, line 8; or Form 1040NR-EZ, line 3. You cannot file Form 1040A or Form 1040EZ.

   Because social security, Medicare, or Additional Medicare taxes were not withheld from the allocated tips, you must report those taxes as additional tax on your return. Complete Form 4137 and include the allocated tips on line 1 of the form as provided in its instructions. See Reporting social security, Medicare, Additional Medicare, or railroad retirement taxes on tips not reported to your employer under Reporting Tips on Your Tax Return, earlier.

How to request an approved lower rate.   Your employer can use a tip rate lower than 8% (but not lower than 2%) to figure allocated tips only if the IRS approves the lower rate. Either the employer or the employees can request approval of a lower rate by filing a petition with the IRS. The petition must include specific information about the establishment that will justify the lower rate. A user fee must be paid with the petition.

   An employee petition can be filed only with the consent of a majority of the directly tipped employees (waiters, bartenders, and others who receive tips directly from customers). The petition must state the total number of directly tipped employees and the number of employees consenting to the petition. Employees filing the petition must promptly notify the employer, and the employer must promptly give the IRS a copy of all Forms 8027, Employer's Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips, filed for the establishment for the previous 3 years.

  For more information about how to file a petition and what information to include, see Allocation of Tips in the Instructions for Form 8027.

How To Get Tax Help

Do you need help with a tax issue or preparing your tax return, or do you need a free publication or form?

Preparing and filing your tax return.   Find free options to prepare and file your return on IRS.gov or in your local community if you qualify.
  • Go to IRS.gov and click on the Filing tab to see your options.

  • Enter “Free File” in the search box to use brand name software to prepare and e-file your federal tax return for free.

  • Enter “VITA” in the search box, download the free IRS2Go app, or call 1-800-906-9887 to find the nearest Volunteer Income Tax Assistance or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) location for free tax preparation.

  • Enter “TCE” in the search box, download the free IRS2Go app, or call 1-888-227-7669 to find the nearest Tax Counseling for the Elderly location for free tax preparation.

  The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $53,000 or less, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and limited-English-speaking taxpayers who need help preparing their own tax returns. The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program offers free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those who are 60 years of age and older. TCE volunteers specialize in answering questions about pensions and retirement-related issues unique to seniors.

Getting answers to your tax law questions.    IRS.gov and IRS2Go are ready when you are—24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Enter “ITA” in the search box on IRS.gov for the Interactive Tax Assistant, a tool that will ask you questions on a number of tax law topics and provide answers. You can print the entire interview and the final response.

  • Enter “Tax Map” or “Tax Trails” in the search box for detailed information by tax topic.

  • Enter “Pub 17” in the search box to get Pub. 17, Your Federal Income Tax for Individuals, which features details on tax-saving opportunities, 2014 tax changes, and thousands of interactive links to help you find answers to your questions.

  • Call TeleTax at 1-800-829-4477 for recorded information on a variety of tax topics.

  • Access tax law information in your electronic filing software.

  • Go to IRS.gov and click on the Help & Resources tab for more information.

Tax forms and publications.   You can download or print all of the forms and publications you may need on www.irs.gov/formspubs. Otherwise, you can:
  • Go to www.irs.gov/orderforms to place an order and have forms mailed to you, or

  • Call 1-800-829-3676 to order current-year forms, instructions, publications, and prior-year forms and instructions (limited to 5 years).

You should receive your order within 10 business days.

Where to file your tax return.   
  • There are many ways to file your return electronically. It’s safe, quick and easy. See Preparing and filing your tax return, earlier, for more information.

  • See your tax return instructions to determine where to mail your completed paper tax return.

Getting a transcript or copy of a return.   
  • Go to IRS.gov and click on “Get Transcript of Your Tax Records” under “Tools.

  • Download the free IRS2Go app to your smart phone and use it to order transcripts of your tax returns or tax account.

  • Call the transcript toll-free line at 1-800-908-9946.

  • Mail Form 4506-T or Form 4506T-EZ (both available on IRS.gov).

Using online tools to help prepare your return.   Go to IRS.gov and click on the Tools bar to use these and other self-service options.

Understanding identity theft issues.   
  • Go to www.irs.gov/uac/Identity-Protection for information and videos.

  • Contact the Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490 if you believe you are at risk due to a lost or stolen purse or wallet, questionable credit card activity or credit report, etc.

Checking on the status of a refund.   
  • Go to www.irs.gov/refunds.

  • Download the free IRS2Go app to your smart phone and use it to check your refund status.

  • Call the automated refund hotline at 1-800-829-1954.

Making a tax payment.   You can make electronic payments online, by phone, or from a mobile device. Paying electronically is safe and secure. The IRS uses the latest encryption technology and does not store banking information. It’s easy and secure and much quicker than mailing in a check or money order. Go to IRS.gov and click on the Payments tab or the “Pay Your Tax Bill” icon to make a payment using the following options.
  • Direct Pay (only if you are an individual who has a checking or savings account).

  • Debit or credit card.

  • Electronic Federal Tax Payment System.

  • Check or money order.

What if I can’t pay now?   Click on the Payments tab or the “Pay Your Tax Bill” icon on IRS.gov to find more information about these additional options.
  • An online payment agreement determines if you are eligible to apply for an installment agreement if you cannot pay your taxes in full today. With the needed information, you can complete the application in about 30 minutes, and get immediate approval.

  • An offer in compromise allows you to settle your tax debt for less than the full amount you owe. Use the Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier to confirm your eligibility.

Checking the status of an amended return.   Go to IRS.gov and click on the Tools tab and then Where’s My Amended Return?

Understanding an IRS notice or letter.   Enter “Understanding your notice” in the search box on IRS.gov to find additional information about your IRS notice or letter.

Visiting the IRS.   Locate the nearest Taxpayer Assistance Center using the Office Locator tool on IRS.gov. Enter “office locator” in the search box. Or choose the “Contact Us” option on the IRS2Go app and search Local Offices. Before you visit, use the Locator tool to check hours and services available.

Watching IRS videos.    The IRS Video portal www.irsvideos.gov contains video and audio presentations on topics of interest to individuals, small businesses, and tax professionals. You’ll find video clips of tax topics, archived versions of live panel discussions and Webinars, and audio archives of tax practitioner phone forums.

Getting tax information in other languages.   For taxpayers whose native language is not English, we have the following resources available.
  1. Taxpayers can find information on IRS.gov in the following languages.

  2. The IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers provide over-the-phone interpreter service in over 170 languages, and the service is available free to taxpayers.

The Taxpayer Advocate Service Is Here To Help You

What is the Taxpayer Advocate Service?

The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization within the Internal Revenue Service that helps taxpayers and protects taxpayer rights. Our job is to ensure that every taxpayer is treated fairly and that you know and understand your rights under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

What Can the Taxpayer Advocate Service Do For You?

We can help you resolve problems that you can’t resolve with the IRS. And our service is free. If you qualify for our assistance, you will be assigned to one advocate who will work with you throughout the process and will do everything possible to resolve your issue. TAS can help you if:

  • Your problem is causing financial difficulty for you, your family, or your business,

  • You face (or your business is facing) an immediate threat of adverse action, or

  • You’ve tried repeatedly to contact the IRS but no one has responded, or the IRS hasn’t responded by the date promised.

How Can You Reach Us?

We have offices in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Your local advocate’s number is in your local directory and at www.irs.gov/Advocate/Local-Taxpayer-Advocate. You can also call us at 1-877-777-4778.

How Can You Learn About Your Taxpayer Rights?

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights describes ten basic rights that all taxpayers have when dealing with the IRS. Our Tax Toolkit at www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov can help you understand what these rights mean to you and how they apply. These are your rights. Know them. Use them.

How Else Does the Taxpayer Advocate Service Help Taxpayers?

TAS works to resolve large-scale problems that affect many taxpayers. If you know of one of these broad issues, please report it to us at www.irs.gov/sams.

Low Income Taxpayer Clinics

Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) serve individuals whose income is below a certain level and need to resolve tax problems such as audits, appeals, and tax collection disputes. Some clinics can provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language. To find a clinic near you, visit www.irs.gov/litc or see IRS Publication 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List.


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