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restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping #179413
01/02/2019 11:48 AM
01/02/2019 11:48 AM
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 30
Toronto, Ontario
mojomatt Offline OP
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mojomatt  Offline OP
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I haven't been in the BVI for years, but I remember the last time we were there, we discovered near the end of our trip that most restaurants were charging us "tax" on the bill even though there was no official BVI tax. I found out after we got home that the "tax" was like a gratuity, but not explained it to us that way. Not knowing this, we tipped on top of the tax.

What is the current situation? Is there really a sales tax in BVI, if so, what is the rate?

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Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: mojomatt] #179414
01/02/2019 12:03 PM
01/02/2019 12:03 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 4,557
Toronto, Ontario
gordaguy2 Offline
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There is NO sales tax in BVI - most restaurants have now learned their lesson and are not trying to hide the service charge or tip - lesson for all is read the sales slip and ask if unclear. cheers Brian


GordaGuy2
Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: mojomatt] #179422
01/02/2019 03:02 PM
01/02/2019 03:02 PM
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 37
San Diego
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krafty81 Offline
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San Diego
Most restaurants add a 10-15% "service fee" (tip) automatically to your bill. Some do not. You have to check the bill closely.

Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: mojomatt] #179435
01/02/2019 06:00 PM
01/02/2019 06:00 PM
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 1,419
Memphis, BVI, CT
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RatmansWife Offline
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New twist on this. We had lunch at the Moorings for the second time this week. Lovely spot, good food and priced fairly.

We noticed they automatically add a 7% service charge for just the kitchen staff. You add what you want for the actual servers. We found this particularly odd. Either add your 15-20%, or leave it up to the customer. Who tips the chef?

Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: mojomatt] #179443
01/02/2019 06:57 PM
01/02/2019 06:57 PM
Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 3,003
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sail445 Offline
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The gouging will continue as long as they think the customer IQ is the same as theirs and they’re to ignorant to understand otherwise.

Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: mojomatt] #179451
01/02/2019 10:03 PM
01/02/2019 10:03 PM
Joined: Oct 2014
Posts: 111
North Shore, MA
GettinBye Offline
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GettinBye  Offline
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So- I’m a bit confused as to how to handle that situation. I probably have never even noticed that!! 😡😡😡. I am pretty much s 20% tipper always unless something is particularly bad. Or good. Then I will adjust. But if they add a 7% tip on their own (calling it whatever they like) - do people typically do the math and leave 15% or so instead ? This will make me uncomfortable but I don’t want to be a stooge either. I realize the BVIs are still struggling but from my perspective - I would always tend to over tip especially given the islands’ state. But not if I feel like I’m being taken advantage of. Hoping I’m ignorant enough not to notice? Is that the gimmick? That bums me out


[Linked Image]
Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: GettinBye] #179453
01/02/2019 11:36 PM
01/02/2019 11:36 PM
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 1,419
Memphis, BVI, CT
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RatmansWife Offline
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The restaurant scene has changed so much post Irma. Some of our favorites disappeared, others are under new management. Others have seemingly jacked up their prices to pay for repairs.

In the case of the Moorings, the fault may actually lie with inept politicians, who are in no shortage! They passed a law requiring restaurants have a tip committee composed of management, servers and kitchen staff. I suspect this 7% service charge relates to that. They are open about it, but it is certainly odd.

Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: mojomatt] #179456
01/03/2019 12:44 AM
01/03/2019 12:44 AM
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 37
San Diego
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krafty81 Offline
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Yes the restaurants are all pretty expensive right now. I would just add whatever was needed to get to 20% overall.

Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: mojomatt] #179466
01/03/2019 09:53 AM
01/03/2019 09:53 AM
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Narwhal Offline
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Just went back through all of our receipts from our Christmas trip. Lots of 15% 'Service Fee' adds, but we were a party of 6-8 people so no real surprise there and we usually tipped on top of that anyway; Didn't see anything listed as Tax.

Also-Noticed on a few occasions where there was a line item for rounding-Rounded up to the nearest whole dollar; I suppose that makes life easier if paying with cash.

Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: mojomatt] #179469
01/03/2019 10:19 AM
01/03/2019 10:19 AM
Joined: Oct 2014
Posts: 111
North Shore, MA
GettinBye Offline
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North Shore, MA
We will be a party of 8 everywhere we go when on VG in March. That’s a good point about the size of the party I hadn’t thought of that. I am happy to help out the island’s economy if I can. It’s why I chose this as a destination. So I guess I will just roll with it. 😎😎😎😎😎


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Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: GettinBye] #179470
01/03/2019 10:53 AM
01/03/2019 10:53 AM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 4,557
Toronto, Ontario
gordaguy2 Offline
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Just rolling with it is a great way to go - me, I go with he reasonableness approach - if it seems out of whack I question it.


GordaGuy2
Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: mojomatt] #179580
01/04/2019 02:21 PM
01/04/2019 02:21 PM
Joined: Dec 2018
Posts: 216
Dana Point
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captdennyj Offline
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Dana Point
Thank you all....

Buyer beware comes into effect here. We also tip 20 %, ( plus or minus ). But tipping that 20% on top of 7 % and,/ or 15%......is way out of line. We will definitely look over the entire bill . We generally pay in cash, just two of us, and leave a small electronic foot print, even at home . I was hacked by pros back on kauai . Not locals, but thru Wallmart, with charges in Europe, New Jersey and some of the southern states. As soon as the card people called, we put the binders on everything, and
cancelled, the card. No charge to us. We acted immediately, out of the house and into the car, the second call from the bank was received as were were in the car on our way to the bank.

It does not take a shipyard to fall on my head, I learned. I called an previous room mate, F-14 driver, and we flew as Instructor PIlots for Air Combat U.S.A. He then went with the FBI. Apparently there are very large criminal organizations, out side the U.S, that are hacking us. Many in Eastern Europe. Not one charge was on kauai,, or any of the neighbor islands. Actually, even at that time, neither of us lived on a credit card. Still dont. We use it very sparingly.

Point being, we can take our time to peruse the bill, and add, or not add to any charges that should not be there. Same for here in the good ol USA.

We are planning on all dinners out. Breakfast and snacks, and boat drinks are all part of our self provisioning.

Thank you for the heads up. We will check the bill, and deduct any service charges , like 7 % for the cook, from the 15 % that is minimum , all depending on the quality of service, and that all important to me, SMILE.

Check six

Denny and Erica

Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: RatmansWife] #179766
01/06/2019 11:15 AM
01/06/2019 11:15 AM
Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 1,199
Devon, UK
salica Offline
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Who does most of take work? The kitchen staff or someone who just carries plates?

Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: salica] #179772
01/06/2019 12:13 PM
01/06/2019 12:13 PM
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 1,419
Memphis, BVI, CT
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RatmansWife Offline
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Memphis, BVI, CT
To me, it has nothing to do with the amount of work. The employer is supposed to pay his staff what they’re worth. The tip is to compensate lower-paid staff for the extra effort they put in to serving you. Do you tip at a drive-through? I don’t. But if someone makes menu suggestions, brings me the food, fills my water glass promptly, brings me the doggie bag, then I tip.

The only reason I can come up with for tipping the kitchen staff is because demand is seasonal. If the restaurant owner raises pay, it’s year round. The tip only happens when there are customers.

Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: mojomatt] #179810
01/06/2019 06:17 PM
01/06/2019 06:17 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 2,039
Charlotte, NC
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NCSailor Offline
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Charlotte, NC
A 15% service charge that is split by the entire staff is nothing more than a poorly hidden 15% increase in the menu prices.

Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: mojomatt] #179829
01/06/2019 08:20 PM
01/06/2019 08:20 PM
Joined: Oct 2001
Posts: 1,882
Maine
Breeze Offline
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Breeze  Offline
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Maine
There is a reason this topic goes over the side quickly, and that has not changed in the nearly 20 years I've been participating here.

Gratuity and Tip mean different things to different folks.

Neither Gratuity nor Tip spell tax, and there is no sales tax on food in the BVI.

That alone should help folks find their way.

Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: mojomatt] #179859
01/07/2019 07:44 AM
01/07/2019 07:44 AM
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Posts: 3,003
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sail445 Offline
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The basic point is they’re ripping off everyone.

Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: sail445] #179879
01/07/2019 09:53 AM
01/07/2019 09:53 AM
Joined: May 2002
Posts: 16,751
Tortola/ Sonoma, California
Manpot Offline
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Tortola/ Sonoma, California
This has gone on for a long time in many different establishments. I have told staff not to try to con me and others with the " tax"..some have even tried to claim it really exists and goes to the government which is a lie of course. I check every time. If in doubt I ask if they have included service and then tip accordingly. I am a 20% tipper but, if they add 15% and the service was nothing special that's what they get. TIPS mean "To Insure Prompt Service"..once the tip is automatically added there is little reason for anyone "To Insure Prompt Service"..

Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: RatmansWife] #253250
04/18/2021 04:51 PM
04/18/2021 04:51 PM
Joined: Jan 2021
Posts: 44
Brookline, Massachusetts and M...
Fitzhughlaw Online content
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Fitzhughlaw  Online Content
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Brookline, Massachusetts and M...
Said perfectly, Mrs. Ratman. I realize that I'm resurrecting an old discussion here but I'm planning to come to VG at some point this year and I wonder about this issue. The other recipient of the Gold Star is the next post after yours, by NCSailor: "A 15% service charge that is split by the entire staff is nothing more than a poorly hidden 15% increase in the menu prices."

This was a common practice by some restaurants in St. Maarten that added a 15% "service charge" which the patron thought was a gratuity that went to the staff, and at some places, virtually none of it did, but rather, was used to pay the staff salaries and defray other overhead. It's so wrong to both the customer and wait staff to do this.

I'd love to know which restaurants in Virgin Gorda that add on a "service charge" actually disburse the entire amount to the wait staff. For those establishments that don't, I want to avoid them. I've met a lot of people in my time, but none who take jobs as waiters or waitresses because they are rich eccentrics who find it a fun way to pass the time.

Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: mojomatt] #253306
04/19/2021 07:13 AM
04/19/2021 07:13 AM
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 3,359
Cane Garden Bay, Tortola
JasonHelmbrecht Offline
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JasonHelmbrecht  Offline
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Cane Garden Bay, Tortola
The automatic service charge is even more common now than when this thread was started. Expect it almost everywhere.


JasonHelmbrecht
Coconut Breeze Villas
Cane Garden Bay
reservations@coconutbreezevillas.com
www.coconutbreezevillas.com
Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: mojomatt] #253333
04/19/2021 09:17 AM
04/19/2021 09:17 AM
Joined: Jul 2020
Posts: 435
Bay Area
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Husker Offline
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I might be off track on this....In my experience tipping customs in Europe (some parts) are different than US. Tipping is more in the US because restaurant workers base pay is much lower compared to EU.
Perhaps this service charge thing came about to compensate for lower-tipping EU tourists?

Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: mojomatt] #253334
04/19/2021 09:25 AM
04/19/2021 09:25 AM
Joined: Nov 2006
Posts: 501
long island, new york
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macaroni Offline
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we just returned from VG and I would say that all but 1 restaurant included the service charge ( i think that was top of the baths).... if we wanted to tip more, we left it in cash. Some had an added line for additional gratuities and some don't on the charge receipt....

Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: Husker] #253373
04/19/2021 04:32 PM
04/19/2021 04:32 PM
Joined: Mar 2012
Posts: 679
Redmond, WA
MrEZgoin Offline
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Originally Posted by Husker
I might be off track on this....In my experience tipping customs in Europe (some parts) are different than US. Tipping is more in the US because restaurant workers base pay is much lower compared to EU.
Perhaps this service charge thing came about to compensate for lower-tipping EU tourists?


I don't know... I'm old enough to remember when tipping was seen by many as "Un-American".


M4000 "Lio Kai"
Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: mojomatt] #253375
04/19/2021 05:45 PM
04/19/2021 05:45 PM
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 470
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706jim Offline
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When paying for a restaurant meal in New Zealand, the line on the zip zap "Chargex" slip was blocked out by the waitress. No tip was asked for or expected.

Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: JasonHelmbrecht] #253388
04/19/2021 09:25 PM
04/19/2021 09:25 PM
Joined: Jan 2021
Posts: 44
Brookline, Massachusetts and M...
Fitzhughlaw Online content
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Jason, I understand, and agree that it's become common. My beef (no pun intended) about it is that I don't know to a certainty that it's going to the wait staff. I am not against it because nobody is forcing me to eat there; what I'm against is that its ultimate distribution is opaque.

Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: Fitzhughlaw] #253399
04/20/2021 07:23 AM
04/20/2021 07:23 AM
Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 192
WI. St. Thomas
TomSW Offline
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If you want to get the tip to the wait staff, pay the bill with a credit card and leave the tip in cash. The wait staff will get the message...and the tip.

Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: TomSW] #253404
04/20/2021 07:50 AM
04/20/2021 07:50 AM
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 3,359
Cane Garden Bay, Tortola
JasonHelmbrecht Offline
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JasonHelmbrecht  Offline
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Cane Garden Bay, Tortola
Originally Posted by TomSW
If you want to get the tip to the wait staff, pay the bill with a credit card and leave the tip in cash. The wait staff will get the message...and the tip.

There is one place that unfortunately I really like and they require the waitstaff to put any cash tips into the pool. After all the cash and credit card tips are collected, the servers are grossed up to a max of $10/hr.

And, they monitor the cameras to make sure the cash tips are submitted to the managers.


JasonHelmbrecht
Coconut Breeze Villas
Cane Garden Bay
reservations@coconutbreezevillas.com
www.coconutbreezevillas.com
Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: Fitzhughlaw] #253405
04/20/2021 07:50 AM
04/20/2021 07:50 AM
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 3,359
Cane Garden Bay, Tortola
JasonHelmbrecht Offline
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JasonHelmbrecht  Offline
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Originally Posted by Fitzhughlaw
Jason, I understand, and agree that it's become common. My beef (no pun intended) about it is that I don't know to a certainty that it's going to the wait staff. I am not against it because nobody is forcing me to eat there; what I'm against is that its ultimate distribution is opaque.

I agree 100%. I pisses me off not to know.


JasonHelmbrecht
Coconut Breeze Villas
Cane Garden Bay
reservations@coconutbreezevillas.com
www.coconutbreezevillas.com
Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: mojomatt] #253409
04/20/2021 08:04 AM
04/20/2021 08:04 AM
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 1,419
Memphis, BVI, CT
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RatmansWife Offline
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Jason, what do they do with any excess over $10/hr? Doesn't that violate the labor code?

Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: RatmansWife] #253411
04/20/2021 08:18 AM
04/20/2021 08:18 AM
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 3,359
Cane Garden Bay, Tortola
JasonHelmbrecht Offline
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JasonHelmbrecht  Offline
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Cane Garden Bay, Tortola
Originally Posted by RatmansWife
Jason, what do they do with any excess over $10/hr? Doesn't that violate the labor code?

no clue about either.


JasonHelmbrecht
Coconut Breeze Villas
Cane Garden Bay
reservations@coconutbreezevillas.com
www.coconutbreezevillas.com
Re: restaurant - sales tax, service charges, tipping [Re: mojomatt] #253445
04/20/2021 12:29 PM
04/20/2021 12:29 PM
Joined: Jan 2021
Posts: 44
Brookline, Massachusetts and M...
Fitzhughlaw Online content
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Brookline, Massachusetts and M...
On this issue of tips or what an establishment calls a "service charge," some states are properly quite strict about regulating them, and prohibiting the kinds of practices we have discussed here (putting a "service charge" on the patron's bill, but then NOT remitting it to the server staff). For example, here in MA, violation of this section of Chapter 157A results in the restaurant or other service establishment being liable for treble damages and attorneys' fees:

"(e) Any service charge or tip remitted by a patron or person to an employer shall be paid to the wait staff employee, service employee, or service bartender by the end of the same business day, and in no case later than the time set forth for timely payment of wages under section 148."

Our courts have interpreted the statute very broadly in response to some defendants that argued that there extra charge to a patron wasn't a "tip" or "service charge," but those proffers have (rightfully) been unavailing. The deception, and abusive practices, that establishments used to practice, to the detriment of serving staff and patrons, have largely disappeared.


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