“Tips are part of your salary and, therefore, must be taxed like the rest of your income.” This was established by the Court of Cassation after the case of the head of reception of a luxury hotel on the Costa Smeralda depositary in a bank of well 84 thousand € tip collected in a single year. The supreme judges recalled that “the current article 51 of the Consolidated Income Tax Law, in the post-IRPEF reform of 2004, provides for a notion of employee income that is no longer limited to the salary received by the employer”. And therefore there is no escape: tips must be taxed. Yes but with which system? Waiters, hairdressers, taxi drivers: is it up to them to trace themselves? Or rather entrust the task to employers? A circular from the Revenue Agency dating back to 2018 until now had excluded all “modest value” donations from taxation, including in the evaluation even small tips received from waiters and employees. But now the sentence of the Supreme Court has changed the cards on the table, placing the sword of Damocles on taxes even on small figures. The practical problem, however, remains: it will not be easy for the Revenue Agency to find those who do not declare even the smallest tip received. If the acts of generosity of the customers are collected in cash and do not go through the accounts it will be difficult to think about an effective tracking system. The only way forward remains that of on-site checks with the men of the Guardia di Finanza who will have to verify how in addition to the issue of the receipt, some tip has been paid to the head nurse or waiters. It goes without saying that the option of capillary controls would hardly be able to produce a homogeneous and effective result throughout the national territory.
The American example and the taxes of Italian croupiers
Nothing of what happens in America where leaving tips is even more common than in Italy. In the US, every waiter is obliged to keep a detailed account of the tips received each year and report the proceeds to the whistle, alternatively risking fines and heavy penalties. The only Italian example similar to that of American employees is that of casino croupiers. For years their tips have been taxed: not for the total amount received but for the 75%. The problem of traceability in this case is rather easy to solve: tips are paid out in chips which then have to be changed at the cash desk. The condition of the casino waiters is still different: for them, unlike the croupiers, the tax rate is at 100%.