Calculating Tips in Restaurants in America

I just discovered that it’s customary to tip 15-20% of the pre-tax amount of the bill at restaurants in the United States. You may be surprised that I didn’t know that already. But the only part I didn’t know was the “pre-tax” part. I had always assumed it was on the total. It’s not.

My Rule-of-Thumb: $3 per $10 on the menu

Anyway, my standard rule-of-thumb still applies: I recommend paying $3 for every $10 that’s on the menu. That will pay for tax plus a good tip, rounded up a bit. I’ve created this chart that shows the actual numbers for some cities near where I live.

Although a 15% tip is considered acceptable, in larger┬ámetropolitan areas such as Southern California, a 20% tip is more standard. If you use my $3┬árule, you’ll be tipping 12 cents higher than 20% on $10.

All of the cities in Orange County have a sales tax rate of 7.75% except La Habra. But even La Habra is cheaper than any Los Angeles County city. I recommend avoiding Pico Rivera and South Gate – they have the highest tax rate in the county. Maybe the whole state. Punish them for it by not eating in restaurants in those two cities.

A side note: when I was looking up the tax rates, the list of cities in Los Angeles County appeared to Google to need translating:

City names in Spanish


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