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Holiday tipping and a tax tip for recipients

Masked pizza delivery guy handing over food_pexels-norma-mortenson-4393426
Photo by Norma Mortenson from Pexels

For the last couple of COVID years, more of us have been getting more home deliveries. So we're already used to tipping the folks who bring us our groceries and prepared meals and prescriptions and books and just about everything else.

But with the holidays here — Christmas is just a week away! How in the heck did that happen? — we also should consider tipping other people who help make our lives more pleasant. These include our garbage and recycling workers, hairdressers, childcare help, and more.

Rather than list all the possible tip recipients and suggested amounts, I'm sending out this weekend's Saturday Shout Outs to the following articles with advice and insights on holiday tipping.

Holiday Tipping Guide from Emily Post Etiquette

A Guide to Holiday Tipping This Year from the New York Times

2021 Holiday Tipping Guide: 18 People You Should Remember from Kiplinger 

Parents' Holiday Tipping Guide 2021 video from Yahoo

Holiday tipping guide: Who to tip and how much from NBC Today Show 

Holiday Tipping Guide: Who Should You Tip, And How Much? from CBS2 New York  

Holiday Tipping Guide 2021: How Much to Give and When to Break From Tradition from the Wall Street Journal 

Everyone You Should Remember to Tip Over the Holidays (and How Much to Give) from Real Simple 

The new rules of tipping: How much to tip in every situation from Bankrate 

Poll: COVID-19 has not made America better tippers from

Personal pay outs: As most of these articles note, tipping is (or, per the CreditCards' poll, isn't) personal, both for the personal handing over the added cash and the recipient.

That means that while these Saturday Shout Out pieces offer suggestions, there are no hard-and-fast rules on tip amounts.

So do some research, like talking with neighbors and friends about their usual tip amounts, and then do what feels right. Trust me, you will find that it is indeed better to give than to receive.

Tipping and taxes: Finally, since this is a tax blog, I've got to include the reminder for folks getting tips that those seasonal gratuities, like all the other tips year-round, are taxable income.

Every month, the ol' blog's righthand column has a reminder, mostly for restaurant servers, about reporting substantial amounts of tips left on the tables. There's even a link to a tip calculator over there.

I've also written other posts over the years on the subject, notably about pooled tips and non-cash added appreciation and even celebrity tips, like for the pizza guy who delivered during the Oscars.

Yes, unless you get your tip on TV like the Oscars pizza guy, it's darn near impossible for the Internal Revenue Service to know how much cash you were slipped by grateful clients and customers. But if the agency does find out you haven't reported all your income, including tips, you'll be in tax trouble.

So I'll just repeat one of the pieces of advice offered to the givers of tips. Do what feels right.

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