Confusion often arises regarding tips and gratuities as the tax and NIC treatment depends on how they are paid to the recipient.
Cash tips handed to an employee, or left on the table at a restaurant and retained by that employee, are not subject to tax and NICs under PAYE, but the employee will need to declare the income to HMRC – HMRC often make an adjustment to the employee’s PAYE tax code number to reflect the amount likely to be received during a tax year so any liability is collected via the payroll. By contrast, if an employer passes tips to employees that are either handed to him (or the employees) or left in a common box/plate by customers, the employer must operate PAYE on all payments made.
Tips will also be subject to PAYE if they are included in cheque and debit/credit card payments to the employer, or if they pass service charges to employees.
Amounts paid by a customer as service charges, tips, gratuities and cover charges count towards National Minimum Wage (NMW) pay if they are paid by the employer to the worker via the employer’s payroll and the amounts are shown on the pay slips issued by the employer. Tips given directly to the worker by a customer do not count towards NMW pay.