One other big upshot of cash tips is that servers don’t have to claim all of them on their taxes. (Don’t come after me, IRS, I’m in no mood.) We’re taxed on how much we take home in tips, so it’s in servers’ interests to lower the amount they declare. If you’re netting on average 20 percent, you might only declare 12 percent of cash tips on your year-end taxes. Oh, you’re offended by the suggestion of “tax evasion”? Look, I’m just telling you how it is. Don’t shoot the messenger.
If you’re confused by all these pros/cons, take some advice from a server friend of mine: She doesn’t mind it when tables ask her how she’d like to be tipped—cash or card. That might be ideal for some servers, but I can also see how it might be tacky at a fancy restaurant or something. If you’re friendly with your server, though, why not ask her what she’d prefer? It makes my day when people remember I’m a human being.