A server named Megan at a Tex-Mex spot in Missouri recently got this tip (or “tip,” more properly) from somebody who looks like they could be a big Grover Norquist fan:
On the receipt’s tip line, the customer put a zero and the battle cry “Taxation is theft.” Then they stuck a note on top of some loose bills that feels like maybe it should be interpreted as Dadaist art: “This is not a tip,” it states. “This is a personal gift and not subject to federal or state income taxes.” Like any good receipt doubling as a political statement, a photo of it soon ended up on Reddit, in a post titled “The Libertarian way to leave a ‘tip,’” where people have now been arguing for days in more than 1,700 comments, the vast majority explaining why either libertarianism is stupid or anarchy is right.
Gifts are taxable, too, of course, but only if they’re above $14,000. So, barring something crazy — maybe Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who just randomly tipped a Memphis server $5,000, turns anti-tax and becomes a Del Rio regular in Joplin, Missouri? — leaving a “personal gift” tip is theoretically in the clear. In reality, however, this person’s note already had nearly a 50-50 shot of being redundant: The IRS estimates that as much as 40 percent of tips go unreported, without the customer encouraging tax avoidance.