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According to the US Department of Labor, states vary in how much the minimum wage is for tipped employees (which are federally defined as employees who regularly receive at least $30 in tips each month).

  • As low as federal tipped minimum wage ($2.13/hr). e.g. Texas
  • Somewhere between federal tipped minimum wage and full state minimum wage, e.g. Florida ($5.03/hr)
  • Full state minimum wage, e.g. Minnesota ($7.25), California ($10.00)

I understand that part of the reason to tip employees is to supplement their low income, but if they are already being paid minimum wage, that seems like an odd thing to do since non-tipped employees in the establishment (busboys and such) probably make the same amount, but don't get tips.

Do I tip higher in Texas where they are being paid $2.13/hr? Do I tip lower in California where they are being paid $10.00/hr?

I do not think that this is a duplicate of How much to tip in the United States? because that question is about the general practice of tipping in the United States and how much to give in various industries. It does not ask about differences between states within the US, like this question does.

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    Possible duplicate of How to tip in the United States? – Karlson Aug 12 '16 at 21:26
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    @Karlson I do not think that this is a duplicate of that because that question is about the general practice of tipping in the United States and how much to give in various industries. It does not ask about differences between states within the US, like this question does. – Thunderforge Aug 12 '16 at 21:29
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    Because there is no difference in tipping customs. Your standard rule of thumb is 15% of the check anywhere you go. Your check will differ between the states and thus the amount. – Karlson Aug 12 '16 at 21:30
  • @Karlson We already have other questions where the answer is also "just tip 15% like in the rest of the US", but they are different questions asking about a specific case and so are not closed as a duplicate. This to me seems no different; I'm asking about a specific case not covered in the original question. Thus they are not duplicate questions, despite the fact that they may have similar answers. – Thunderforge Aug 12 '16 at 21:44
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    You have it backwards; the tip isn't to supplement the low hourly wage, the low wage is a result of most of their income expected to be made via tips. – Andy Feb 27 '17 at 0:30
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No. This is not generally done. There may be some regional variation in average tips unrelated to the minimum wage, but the broad tipping guidelines do not change.

There are many aspects of the tipping system that are problematic, and the difference in wages at restaurants between wait staff and non-tipped staff, including the people who actually cook your food, is certainly one of those aspects. Statewide variation in minimum wage laws are another problematic part of the system. However, that's not something you can really address as a customer. Some restaurants in the US, especially certain high-end ones, are experimenting with no-tipping policies, instead charging a service fee (or higher food prices) and paying staff more, with mixed results for the restaurants and the staff. If you're at such a restaurant, the policy will be made clear to you on the menu or otherwise.

But in general, as a customer, you are not privy to the financial arrangements of the restaurant and its staff, including whatever tip pooling or sharing arrangements may exist (bartenders and bussers often receive some share of tips; the situation for kitchen staff is much more complicated, as including them in tip pools may be illegal). You are not able to single-handedly fix the problems with the system. All you can really do is tip your waitstaff well according to the prevailing customs and try, to the extent you can know, to patronize restaurants that take good care of their employees.

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    If the employer's costs are of no concern to the customer, why are they stiffing the customer with a "healthcare surcharge" on the restaurant bill in California then? – Berwyn Aug 13 '16 at 3:05
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    @Berwyn Because we're crazy in San Francisco? :) – Zach Lipton Aug 13 '16 at 3:09
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    So what will be the motivation for employers to continue paying a reasonable minimum wage? Or more employers/states following this example? This way it seems to me you'll be stuck with the weird tipping situation for longer. That is, assuming you actually see a problem with it.. – Sebastiaan van den Broek Aug 13 '16 at 8:04
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    Honestly, you can't change tipping culture on your own as an individual diner. If you simply go to states like California and leave small tips to make a point, you aren't accomplishing anything, and the staff will conclude you are dissatisfied and/or cheap (also keep in mind that California cities have some of the highest cost of living in the country). There's a fair bit of experimentation going on by restaurant owners to change the system, though it's too early to see how that will really shake out. In the meantime, follow the prevailing customs whether you like them or not. – Zach Lipton Aug 14 '16 at 5:10
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    "...you are not privy to the financial arrangements of the restaurant and its staff..." But if you are in a state where you know they get a minimum direct wage on top of their tips, then you are privy to that financial arrangement. That's kind of the whole point of the question. – Kat Mar 2 '17 at 23:27

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