The Internal Revenue Service offers several tax breaks to waitresses and other restaurant workers. Although you must itemize your deductions to take advantage of the deductions, waitresses who pay a large amount of related employee expenses can cut the wages and tips that the IRS taxes. To write off your expenses, you must file Schedule A along with Form 1040.
Unreimbursed Employee Business Expense
Unreimbursed employee business expenses are job-related expenses that you pay for out-of-pocket. If your boss requires you to wear special clothing that you won't wear outside work, but doesn't reimburse you for the purchase, you can deduct the cost of your uniforms. If you run errands for your boss using your own vehicle, you can deduct the expense on your taxes. To claim a deduction for uniforms or other work-related equipment, enter the expense in the "Job Expenses and Certain Miscellaneous Deductions" section of Schedule A. To report unreimbursed mileage, fill out Form 2106 and include the amount on Schedule A.
Some restaurants impose a rule that waitresses must share their tips with bartenders, hosts or bus persons. If this is procedure in your restaurant, you don't have to pay tax on the tips you "tip-out" to fellow employees. If your employer keeps track of your tips and "tipped-out" tips not deducted from your income, you can write off the difference on your taxes. Write off the deduction as an employee business expense in the "Job Expenses and Certain Miscellaneous Deductions" section of Schedule A.
In some states, restaurant owners can deduct credit card processing fees from a waitress's tips. As of 2013, the standard credit card processing fee is 3 percent, which means a waitress will receive $97 out of every $100 in credit card tips. If your employer charges a processing fee but doesn't deduct the charge from your wages, the amount you paid is tax deductible as an employee business expense on Schedule A.
Keeping a Record
The IRS requires that all waitresses keep a detailed record of tips earned throughout the year. This record should include separate transactions for cash and credit card tips, tips paid to other employees and the name of the employee. Keep a separate record for noncash tips, such as passes or tickets. Any tips not reported to your employer must be reported on Schedule C and you must calculate and pay self-employment taxes on the income.
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