How to Keep Track of Your Bartender Tips

How to Keep Track of Your Bartender Tips
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Keeping track of the tips earned by bartenders isn't just a good idea – it's a mandatory activity, according to the IRS. One of the best ways to keep an accurate accounting of income via tips is with a daily tip journal. In addition to recording tips for personal income tax, a bartender is required to report tip income accurately to his employer. Only cash, debit or credit card tips need to be reported to the employer, barring a conflicting internal policy. Tips in the form of tangible goods, such as event tickets or other valuable items, still need to be recorded and reported to the IRS as part of income tax.

Using the pen and ruler, draw a ledger table in the tip journal with the following column headings: “Date of Tips Recorded, Date of Entry, Tips Received Directly From Customers and Other Staff, and Credit and Debit Tips Received,” according to the IRS' 4070A form.

Draw two additional ledger table columns in the tip journal with a pen and ruler, entitled: “Tips, Payout to Other Employees, and Names of Employees to Whom I Paid Tips.”

Ask the employer how often they want income reported to them. Monthly is a common reporting interval. Make note of the reporting interval and whether the employer requests that it be changed in the journal.

Calculate the sub-total of each column in the reporting interval by adding each entry to the following entry using a calculator. Write the sum at the bottom of each column.

Draft an employee record of tips to the employer with the following fields: “Employee's Name and Address, Employer's Name and Address (including establishment name), and Tip Reporting Period (including month, numeric date and year, and the reporting employee's signature).” The report also needs to include the reporting employee's “social security number, cash tips received, credit and debit card tips received, tips paid out, net tips, and the date,” according to the IRS.


  • The IRS advises that tip recipients omit any mandatory service charges employers add to a customer's bill that they then pay the worker as part of wages rather than a tip.


  • Double check all tip counts and journal entries for accuracy, since the penalty for inaccurate tip reporting to the IRS is “50 percent of Social Security and Medicare taxes owed on the unreported tips.”