I’m currently working in Detroit and just was thinking about when I’d have some time to change a twenty for a bunch of ones when a friend of mine posted on Facebook asking about how, for her taxes, she can deduct cash tips she paid out while traveling.
I realized that I didn’t exactly know the answer to this except that my usual way of deducting the tips I pay out to people in cash is mild guesswork. I know that when I travel for work I almost always tip housekeeping about $2-$3 a day. I rarely use a bellboy to bring my suitcases anywhere, but maybe would use one approximately 4 times a year in order to help me carry something or other up, and tip $2-$3 each time. I’d tip a shuttle driver about $3 about 8 or 9 times a year. Etc, etc.
Make sure you deduct your cash tips to hotel or transportation staff anytime you travel for work. The tips are actual valid deductions. If you’re self-employed, these are no-brainer bona fide travel expenses. But even if you’re not self-employed, if you end up traveling for work, the tips you pay in cash while traveling can absolutely be deducted if you’re itemizing deductions.
The deduction would be under ‘business travel expenses’ and the way you would note them in your records would be to write the tip amount on some form of receipt related to the trip in question. So, for example, if you tipped housekeeping and the bellman during a business trip to Detroit, you would get the hotel receipt (even if it was $0.00 because your company paid for the hotel) and write the cash amount paid on the sheet of paper. Then you would keep that for your records.
This may seem like nickel and dimeing, but these deductions are valid and can really add up, so you might as well take them if you travel a lot for work and are itemizing your expenses.
In our thirties, we should try our darndest to get better at doing our taxes the best we can, so we can keep the most money. We might as well- why lose the money you’ve worked so hard to earn?