Wages & Tips in the USA

A lot of people know, the wages in the US are quite low. Especially for low skilled jobs such as in hospitality. My base minimum wage in San Francisco was actually the highest in the country. This was because the cost of living in San Francisco was so high. My wage was $10 an hour. The last time I remember being on that wage was when I was 16 working at blockbuster video. Now obviously you are expected to tip , the minimum respectable amount  in this city was 20% of the total bill. This is great if you work at a place with a pricey menu. So to put it plainly if your guest spends $100, they should tip an extra $20. It varies from place to place but at my job, it would get divided up at the end of your shift. 3% to your busser/runner. 3% to your bartender & you would have the rest. Not bad if your work at a busy venue.

I was lucky to work in a venue with quite a pricey menu, the venue was marketted to the upper class spender. It was also situated in the financial district,quite an expensive area. basically the venue I worked at the ground level of a big building full of luxurious condos & apartments. overlooking the bay. This accommodation was full of “Tech gurus” that worked at giants such as Facebook, Twitter & YELP. It was situated across from the Ball Park, home to the San Francisco Giants.

Taxes: Thank goodness I was actually TAX EXEMPT. this was thanks to the conditions of my exchange J1-Visa. I say this because, wow quite a lot of tax is withheld from pay cheques.
The preference of a cash tip now made sense to me. You are actually Taxed on your Tip!
So basically anyone who pays you a tip using a credit to debit card, even though you get the cash at the end of your shift, you are actually taxed for it on your pay check!
The only tax I was required to pay was a “City tax” the lowest of all the withheld taxes. I payed about $100 in tax for the year! not bad. can’t complain with that. A few times I compare payslips with co workers. They were shocked and thought it was unfair I could work tax free. I was shocked and thought it was unfair they were taxed so high!

Base Wages
San Francisco : $10/hour + Tips (20%)
Los Angeles : $7/hour + Tips (15%)

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