What Can Fine Dining Servers Write Off on Their Taxes?

Servers may be eligible for overlooked tax deductions.

Servers may be eligible for overlooked tax deductions.

If you offer excellent service at a fine dining establishment, you may be slated to make a boatload of extra income in tips. You can minimize your taxable income by writing off your business expenses. Unlike office workers, you might not have expenses such as office space or a computer, but it's likely you're still spending some money to do your job.

Uniforms

If you have to wear a uniform or special outfit as part of your job, you can deduct the cost of the uniform itself, as well as any upkeep, such as tailoring or dry cleaning. You can't deduct everyday clothing that you have to wear for work. Instead, the clothing must be unsuitable for everyday wear or something you only wear at work.

Licenses and Fees

Dining establishments typically are regulated by local municipalities, and you might have to pay for a servers license. The costs of any licenses you purchase are deductible from your federal taxes. You also can deduct any fees you pay to do your work. Some employers, for example, require independent servers to share a portion of their tips, and you can deduct these expenses.

Travel

If you have to travel in the course of work, these expenses are deductible. For example, if your boss asks you to drive to the grocery store to pick up extra supplies, you can deduct the miles you drive at the standard IRS rate -- 56.5 cents per mile as of 2013. Traveling to other cities to perform services is also deductible, so keep track of your flight and lodging costs.

Miscellaneous Business Expenses

Any expense you have to pay for to do business is generally deductible, and expenses vary somewhat from person to person. If you get an etiquette book so you know how to properly set a table, for example, you can deduct this. If you purchase accounting supplies to keep track of your tips, aprons, tableware or similar supplies, they're also deductible.

 

About the Author

Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.

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