Living in an RV. Need tax help

  1. Hi guys, first post here. I am an ER nurse of 7 years and want to start to travel next year. I am looking into an RV and truck to accomplish this. I am having a hard time understanding tax homes. I just want to know if I am going to be eligible for tax free housing stipends if I keep my primary residence in NC. I do pay mortgage on the home. I may or may not rent it out for a few months a year.
    Also if I start traveling, do I have to come back to NC and work every year to maintain the tax home status? Can I work anywhere in the state or so I have to be near my tax home?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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  2. 15 Comments

  3. by   jive turkey
    1. Yes if you keep your primary residence in NC and pay for it
    2. Be careful how you rent it. Renting to a room mate would be safer rather than the entire place. You want to have the appearance of still residing there and duplicating your expenses. (paying for your tax home and your temporary home)
    3. Work more than 50 miles away from tax home or further depending where you are. I believe there are certain areas in the country where a 51 mile commute for example, wouldn't be considered eligible since it may be "normal" for people in that area. A tax accountant can give you a more precise answer. There's another guy in this forum who will also give you some accurate input.
    4. There are some threads in here about traveling using an RV vs hotels/subletting/roomate. Read through them to see if using an RV is best for you.

    Here's a couple articles that go in to detail addressing your concerns: Tax Topics - Topic 511 Business Travel Expenses http://www.thetaxdude.com/uploads/LO...UCTIBILITY.pdf
  4. by   NedRN
    Quote from jive turkey
    3. Work more than 50 miles away from tax home or further depending where you are. I believe there are certain areas in the country where a 51 mile commute for example, wouldn't be considered eligible since it may be "normal" for people in that area. A tax accountant can give you a more precise answer. There's another guy in this forum who will also give you some accurate input.
    Is that me? No 50 mile rule at all. If you commute from home, you cannot receive tax free housing and meals. That should be totally obvious, but recruiters love to turn travelers into tax cheats. The actual guidance from the IRS says that if the nature of your job requires an overnight stay, then you are eligible to receive tax free reimbursement (or deduct those "duplicated" expenses on your tax return). If you don't have a tax home, you obviously cannot be working away from home.

    Renting out your entire home can in fact cause you to lose that residence for tax home purposes.

    Another criteria of a tax home is that it is really your home, and you maintain car registration there (if you have a vehicle), drivers license, voters registration, local service professionals, and have reason to return regularly. "Return regularly" is IRS language that is not defined well, but at least once a year at a minimum. Tax home is not an exact definition, but a preponderance of the evidence available if you are ever audited.

    Working when at home is one of the three legs of maintaining a tax home, but only two are required. So you don't have to work at home, but it certainly helps solidify your tax home.

    You can read a lot more about tax homes on PanTravelers and TravelTax. I don't think there are any other sites you can trust on this subject. There are a number of gotchas if audited. Renting your entire home is one (although there is a short term one time IRS exclusion allowing it), and another is working in some other general location for over a year, and another is having most your annual income derive from one place only - like working the same location for nine months every year - then that is your new tax home, and the work you might do at your former tax home becomes the one you can get tax free stipends for.

    If you do lose your tax home on purpose, you are "itinerant" and all your compensation including housing is taxable as you are never away from home. This can work well for some travelers, especially if the cost of maintaining a tax home is greater than the tax savings - the cutoff is about $10,000 a year.
  5. by   AshevilleRN
    Thanks for your reply. I really appreciate it.
  6. by   jive turkey
    Quote from NedRN
    Is that me? No 50 mile rule at all. If you commute from home, you cannot receive tax free housing and meals. That should be totally obvious, but recruiters love to turn travelers into tax cheats. The actual guidance from the IRS says that if the nature of your job requires an overnight stay, then you are eligible to receive tax free reimbursement (or deduct those "duplicated" expenses on your tax return). If you don't have a tax home, you obviously cannot be working away from home.

    Renting out your entire home can in fact cause you to lose that residence for tax home purposes.

    Another criteria of a tax home is that it is really your home, and you maintain car registration there (if you have a vehicle), drivers license, voters registration, local service professionals, and have reason to return regularly. "Return regularly" is IRS language that is not defined well, but at least once a year at a minimum. Tax home is not an exact definition, but a preponderance of the evidence available if you are ever.
    To clarify, I'm saying work at a facilty that is at least 50 miles away (to satisfy some employers, but not all) not drive to and fro at least 50 miles each shift. That definitely won't get you tax home status and there are people in certain areas of the country that do that every day due to their community (i.e. folks working in greater L.A. but live in San Bernardino) making it harder To prove you had to stay overnight at your assignment Location
    Last edit by jive turkey on Aug 24
  7. by   AshevilleRN
    Thanks for the detailed response. I think I am understanding it a bit more now. We are not going to be doing this for the money, more for the travel experience. We have a nest egg already. Maybe we won't rent the house or even a room to simplify things after all. We just want to get on the road and need the housing to be tax free to be worth it.
    Do you know how often I have to return and how much the IRS wants me to work near my NC residence to satisfy the stipulations of the tax free stipend? In other words, how often do I have to come back home to my primary residence? I didn't want to keep a PRN job here at all if I don't have to.
    Thanks!
  8. by   caliotter3
    The IRS website contains a wealth of info and is easy to navigate. You can do some research there. You could access Publication 17 for the chapter that pertains. (It is not a bad idea to order a print copy of this IRS publication to be sent to you. It has everything in simple language, and is probably still available for free.)
  9. by   jive turkey
    Quote from AshevilleRN
    Thanks for the detailed response. I think I am understanding it a bit more now. We are not going to be doing this for the money, more for the travel experience. We have a nest egg already. Maybe we won't rent the house or even a room to simplify things after all. We just want to get on the road and need the housing to be tax free to be worth it.
    Do you know how often I have to return and how much the IRS wants me to work near my NC residence to satisfy the stipulations of the tax free stipend? In other words, how often do I have to come back home to my primary residence? I didn't want to keep a PRN job here at all if I don't have to.
    Thanks!
    Rent a room, nest egg or not! Why deny yourself the income and to have somebody keep an eye out on your home? As long as you don't rent it in such a way that it's not possible for you to live there, you'll be fine.
  10. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from jive turkey
    Rent a room, nest egg or not! Why deny yourself the income and to have somebody keep an eye out on your home? As long as you don't rent it in such a way that it's not possible for you to live there, you'll be fine.
    Just make sure that the person you rent to is someone you can trust.
  11. by   NedRN
    Quote from AshevilleRN
    Do you know how often I have to return and how much the IRS wants me to work near my NC residence to satisfy the stipulations of the tax free stipend? In other words, how often do I have to come back home to my primary residence?
    You don't have to work at home, but it certainly helps solidify your tax home. The IRS says you have to return home "regularly". Not that helpful, but if you really have a home, you will want to return to it regularly. I'd suggest at least annually. Don't you need an annual physical from your GP?
  12. by   Argo
    Quote from NedRN
    You don't have to work at home, but it certainly helps solidify your tax home. The IRS says you have to return home "regularly". Not that helpful, but if you really have a home, you will want to return to it regularly. I'd suggest at least annually. Don't you need an annual physical from your GP?
    Just as an example of wjat he is saying... I have all of my company required medical visits scheduled at home... i return home very often but seeing a regular clinician in a regular office at home is a good "anchor".
  13. by   qrkid
    Quote from AshevilleRN
    Thanks for the detailed response. I think I am understanding it a bit more now. We are not going to be doing this for the money, more for the travel experience. We have a nest egg already. Maybe we won't rent the house or even a room to simplify things after all. We just want to get on the road and need the housing to be tax free to be worth it.
    Do you know how often I have to return and how much the IRS wants me to work near my NC residence to satisfy the stipulations of the tax free stipend? In other words, how often do I have to come back home to my primary residence? I didn't want to keep a PRN job here at all if I don't have to.
    Thanks!
    You could even look to rent a room to a fellow travel RN. They could sign a lease and pay you monthly so they can have a tax home. You would get the benefit of the income and still not really have anybody staying in your house.
  14. by   nurse.ethel.RN
    I have a fantastic tax man whos given me invaluable information - you need a primary residence (albeit apartment, own home, or rental (even if you "rent" a space from a friend)). When you travel, most of the time they "require" yor primary resident address to be at least 50-60+ miles away from your assignment (I have known nurses who live and work in the same city because they used a relatives address in another city far enough away just so they can get the stipened - I know its not "legal", but some agencies dont delve that far into it because they need heads on a unit. SO, yes, you need to keep some primary resident address (even if you rent your house out), you are not technically required to go back and physically stay in that house - but I THINK you cannot be signed up on a travel assignment for 365 days a year, you have to be off for at least three months (thats the time youre assumed to be living in your permanent residence, even if you dont). So you could travel, take a few weeks off, travel, take a few more weeks off etc. and rent out your house year round if you want - no one knows the difference. ALL that being said, you qualify for housing and meal stipend

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