I started travel nursing in Feb this year (2017). I've always been told that, in order to qualify for a tax free housing stipend, I had to commute at least 50 miles from the hospital, OR, I had to be able to prove that i was duplicating expenses. Now that I am with a new agency, I will be commuting directly from home. The recruiter is telling me that I still qualify for the housing stipend. I'm very leery of this info and not sure if I should move on to another agency or just get a permanent position so that stipends are not an issue for me. When she told me this, I started to question whether I should trust her info. Where can I find the real truth for qualifying for housing stipends?
Hi Klovela1. There is no 50 mile rule. There are a lot of posts on here regarding that myth. You have to prove you have duplicate expenses for both your home and your rental property where you stay during your traveling. In addition, if you choose to rent out your entire house while you are gone, you lose tax free stipend status as well. I would consult with a tax professional.
If you are commuting from home like most other workers, what make travel nurses special that they get a tax benefit no one else gets?
Bingo, all your compensation should be taxed. You can read more about the topic on PanTravelers and TravelTax.
Yes, your recruiter is ignorant. Most are. Anyway, they have been coached to tell you stories about taxes. Because many travelers are not as honest as you, they know they will lose travelers to the agencies with lower standards and higher take home pay because of less taxes.
So recruiter's ignorance is not a reason to switch. But if this agency refuses to tax all your compensation, then I wouldn't work for them.
You may find the staff job is a better deal. You may get less cash weekly, but benefits like PTO, holidays, vacation, retirement, and good health insurance could be compelling.
You will also get a better orientation and potentially treated better than a traveler.
I did travel nursing. So is the recruiter telling you that your housing stipend will be tax free if you live less than 50 miles away? If she did she is not telling you the truth, and when filing your taxes you "might" slip by auditors notice but basically if this is a typical travel company where a large portion of your pay is that housing stipend you may get audited and back taxed. The IRS has been heavily auditing people working for certain travel companies. Find out what your hourly wage will be and what the stipend will be, if the hourly wage is significantly less than what typical RN would make per hour you are putting yourself at risk. Good Luck
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