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Publication 505


The tips you receive while working on your job are considered part of your pay. You must include your tips on your tax return on the same line as your regular pay. However, tax is not withheld directly from tip income, as it is from your regular pay. Nevertheless, your employer will take into account the tips you report when figuring how much to withhold from your regular pay.

Reporting tips to your employer.(p12)

If you receive tips of $20 or more in a month while working for any one employer, you must report to your employer the total amount of tips you receive on the job during the month. The report is due by the 10th day of the following month.
If you have more than one job, make a separate report to each employer. Report only the tips you received while working for that employer, and only if they total $20 or more for the month.

How employer figures amount to withhold.(p12)

The tips you report to your employer are counted as part of your income for the month you report them. Your employer can figure your withholding in either of two ways.

Not enough pay to cover taxes.(p12)

If your regular pay is not enough for your employer to withhold all the tax (including income tax and social security and Medicare taxes (or the equivalent railroad retirement tax)) due on your pay plus your tips, you can give your employer money to cover the shortage.
If you do not give your employer money to cover the shortage, your employer first withholds as much Medicare tax and social security or railroad retirement tax as possible, up to the proper amount, and then withholds income tax up to the full amount of your pay. If not enough tax is withheld, you may have to pay estimated tax. When you file your return, you also may have to pay any Medicare and social security tax or railroad retirement tax your employer could not withhold.

Tips not reported to your employer.(p13)

On your tax return, you must report all the tips you receive during the year, even tips you do not report to your employer (this includes the value of any noncash tips you received, such as tickets, passes, or other items of value). Make sure you are having enough tax withheld, or are paying enough estimated tax (see chapter 2), to cover all your tip income.

Allocated tips.(p13)

If you work in a large food or beverage establishment, your employer may have to report an allocated amount of tips on your Form W-2.
Your employer should not withhold income tax, Medicare tax, and social security or railroad retirement tax on the allocated amount. Withholding is based only on your pay plus your reported tips. Your employer should refund to you any incorrectly withheld tax.

More information.(p13)

For more information on the reporting and withholding rules for tip income and on tip allocation, see Publication 531, Reporting Tip Income.