While you may not feel the need to tip everyone wearing a reindeer hat and gesturing towards a tip jar with a cute saying on it, remembering the people who work in your home during the holidays is the right thing to do.

Whether someone is helping you with your medical needs or simply holding the door for you, your holiday gift is appreciated more than you might guess.

So what is the right amount to tip these people that made your life easier all year? The folks at BrickUnderground have taken the guesswork out of giving with this handy guide:

  • Cleaning person/housekeeper:  One to two weeks pay.

  • Cleaning service: Tip 15-20% throughout the year, as a portion of their earnings goes to the cleaning service. If the same crew cleans your apartment each time, a holiday tip (1 week) is appreciated.

  • Full-time nanny: One week pay minimum, or two if you can afford it.  Or, one week’s pay and one week’s vacation.

  • Regular babysitter: Consider tipping $25-50 in cash or gift card.

  • Regular dog walker: One week’s pay

  • UPS delivery:  $25-50 if you have a lot of packages delivered. More if you have a lot of business-related deliveries.

  • Mail carrier: By law, mail carriers can’t accept cash or anything worth over $20. In reality, some (but by no means most) residents do tip in the $25-$50 range, especially if they receive a lot of deliveries or a lot of mail that requires signatures. For a fuller discussion of the postal carrier tipping question, click here.

It is important to remember that there are serious workplace and tax considerations when giving cash gifts to in-home workers. For home health aides, check with their agency to see if gift-giving is permitted. Believe it or not, I have seen some caregivers get fired for accepting a monetary gift that was offered to them.

All monetary gifts are subject to regular payroll taxes. Whether you decide to give a day’s salary or a week’s salary, Uncle Sam still needs to be paid. The IRS has taken a renewed interest in the tax compliance of households with in-home workers.

On the other hand if you give an actual, physical gift, no taxes need to be paid.

Your generosity towards the people who work in your home isn’t just good for them. It’s good for you, too! Judith Heft & Associates wish you a joyous holiday full of giving…and a Happy, Healthy and Safe New Year! 2014 promises exciting things!



Judith Heft, Principal, Judith Heft & Associates is a personal financial concierge with offices in Greenwich and Stamford. She can be contacted via email at judy@judithheft.com or by phone 203-978-1858.