Do you remember your first job? Mine was waiting tables at Coco’s Famous Hamburgers in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. The minimum wage for waiting tables was lower than the standard minimum wage, so my official pay slip was small and of little interest to me. I never met anyone from personnel (as HR was then known) or from payroll, and did not give this much thought. The wait staff worked for cash tips from customers, and these tips were not run through payroll. Our manager would tell us that we were responsible for keeping a record of our tips to declare on our tax returns. As a high school student working part-time, this caused me some unease. I learned that most high school age wait staff were not keeping track very well either — which in turn explains why the tax authorities were not satisfied that taxes were being accurately collected on tips.
Those were heady days of cash-in-pocket at the end of each shift. Bank deposits were made periodically after rolling up pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters in paper tubes at the kitchen table, and taking coins and bills to the bank.
I read in the newspaper at the time that the tax authorities were to close “tax loopholes” on tips. Although this never personally affected me, I recall this experience when I read about legislation globally to close tax loopholes; mostly on high earners, which I was not. By the time that the tax laws had changed and paying tips by bank cards became standard, I had moved from waiting tables. When my younger brother started waiting tables, the days of cash in pocket were over.