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Tax tip for bartender: Declare your gratuitites

THE BALTIMORE SUN

I just started working as a part-time bartender on weekends. My co-workers tell me that part-timers don't have to declare tips. But colleagues at my full-time job said I should always declare tips. Who's right?

Your full-time pals are right. The Internal Revenue Service considers tips income, and you must declare them.

"Part- or full-time, they do have to report their tips," an IRS spokesman said. If you receive at least $20 in tips a month, you should report them to your employer, who will withhold federal income taxes and taxes for Social Security and Medicare.

What's more, tips determine how much the boss has to contribute toward your weekly wages to bring you up to the $5.15 federal hourly minimum wage. If you make $1.85 an hour, the boss has to chip in $3.30. The less you make in tips, the more the boss has to chip in.

For more information on tips, go to www.irs.gov and search for Publication 531, "Reporting Tip Income," or call 800-829-3676.

Carrie Mason-Draffen is a columnist for Newsday, a Tribune Publishing newspaper. E-mail her at yourmoney@tribune.com.

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