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The Ins and Outs of proper tipping

Monday - 1/9/2012, 4:57am  ET

AP: 83137724-f42a-46f1-930a-2efed2f2c6d2
Customers should tip 15-20 percent on drinks at the bar. The bartender, who is actually making the drink, also works on tips. (AP/Brian Kersey)

WASHINGTON - Are you tipping correctly?

It turns out there is a right way and a wrong way to calculate a tip.

Reader's Digest and Yahoo's Financially Fit spoke with Steve Dublanica, a former server and author of the blog Waiter Rant, to get to the bottom of proper tipping.

Dublanica answers five common tipping questions:

  • Should you tip on the tax? - There's no reason to tip on tax, the restaurant doesn't keep tax money. But one thing to consider: When servers calculate sales at the end of the night, they do include the tax in the amount.
  • What is the right amount to tip on drinks? - You should leave 15-20 percent of the total cost of the drink. The bartender, who actually makes the drinks, is also working for tips.
  • Do you always tip a barista? - Many baristas appreciate the change from buying a cup of coffee. For customers who order a decaf, double shot, soy, iced latte with no foam, go ahead and tip a dollar.
  • When, if ever, is it acceptable to leave a bad tip? - Tip money is distributed to other employees in the restaurant so you're punishing all the other people connected to your dining experience. Instead, leave a tip and talk to a manager, Dublanica recommends.
  • Should a server be able to automatically include gratuity it it's not a large group? - Restaurants that include an automatic service charge should tell customers. Deciding to attach a tip is not a decision that should be made by a waiter. It's a decision for management.

To read more about properly tipping, follow this link.

WTOP's Veronica Robinson contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

Tags: tipping