I am seriously considering taking up travel nursing next year. One of my stumbling blocks to moving forward is the tax implications from travel nursing and trying to reap the legal benefits the federal tax code allows.
Are any of myFICO members travel nurses that can give me some advice to move forward? I think that travel nursing would be a blast but not if I have to deal with major headaches dealing with the accounting and taxes that come with it.
I suppose engaging a CPA would be the best bet unless someone has a better option or solution.
I am a traveler (not nursing, but within healthcare, so job type is same monies/taxes-wise). Taxes honestly are a non-issue these days since 2018 filings and tax changes. There are no more deductions for travel work/expenses or car use. I can never get more than a standard deduction, so it is just a plain 1040EZ, usually. Prior to the changes, I'd save every receipt (still do "just in case"), account every mile, and track every penny spent. The biggest hurdle will be if you are trying to buy a home. I believe only your taxable wages (shown on w2) will be counted, but ymmv depending on needing income verification, etc. The checks are still going into your bank account, so that counts for something if you only need bank statements! I still struggle with credit card apps and loans as what to place for income because often it states "gross income" and then they want to verify because of the job title vs $ earned (not typical)....honestly, if you are in it for the money, don't get hung up on the hourly rate! That is many travelers main issue with maximizing earning potentional! Who cares if it says $10/hr or $40/hr if the money is going in the bank? You are just setting yourself up for a higher tax bracket and more taxes to pay/have deducted from your check. I have gotten lucky and have either been able to work boat loads of OT or moonlight at a second facility. With $12/hr & $50/hr rates, repectively, last year I pulled $69k taxable and $143k earned and year prior was $39k/$102k. Honestly, skies the limit, it just depends if you are working for money or want to have more of a work-cation. Any questions, let me know!
Main things: find your own housing or buddy up with another traveler, use your own car (and find an agency that still offers rental cars so you can get the car allowance, but it is considered taxable monies), get the lowest possible hourly rate without your position being recharacterized by the IRS (huge problems with that, so I'd say don't go lower than $10/hr and your agency should be well aware of this), stuff as much monies into the stipends (housing & per-diem) as legally allowed, then go from there as to your hourly rate. The agency is ripping off if you aren't at least making 100% more than at a permanent position.
Sorry, final edit! You meed to have a tax home in addition to your travels or you do not qualify for the non-taxable monies. Rent a room, keep your home, whatever work where you have a permanent address that you receive mail at and DL with that address and in that state. *very important* If you manage to keep extending your contract at a facility or in the same state, you cannot stay there 12 months out of the year! You need to leave for a month minimum. I usually work less that 11 months out of the year. You need to make sure you do not become a resident of the state you are working in or you owe back taxes for the whole year (ouch!). Or just keep taking contracts in different states and you never need to take a break. I like to stay where I have huge earning potential if at all possible. Just play by the easy rules and you will be fine!
Good luck! I love it and will never turn back! I almost feel bad I wasted 15 years at a permanent position, but hey, I have the experience in my corner, right?