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Advice needed...Life changing event

Travel   (343 Views 7 Comments)
by principessaGG principessaGG (New Member) New Member

729 Profile Views; 12 Posts

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So this may be lengthy but right now I don't know where else to turn but to my fellow nurses.   I am going through a divorce...I have 2 grown children that are in the military and live in other parts of the country.  After this marriage is said and done, I don't have a reason to stay in NJ...it is expensive to live here and I would rather be close to one of my children.  I really want to try travel nursing so I have the flexibility to see each of them and travel in between assignments overseas to where my family has a home.  It's time I start to save money while working and then think about ME.  I am older now and have to worry about myself and my mental sanity.  However, I am afraid.  Why?  Well, while the above plan sounds GREAT,  I would be leaving a job with great medical benefits, stability and a position in the endoscopy dept where I started 4 months ago.   All my previous experience was in med surg. at the bedside where I only recently was given the opportunity to run away from, lol.  However, it is depressing to only be able to have 2 weeks vacation at a time ( they will never approve more than that at one time) and now impossible to see my boys for long weekends as I work 8 hour shifts.   

I am also afraid of travel assignments due to the feared "worst assignments" etc at my age.  Also although I have read you get medical benefits, I have also read they aren't good ones.  Then there is the issue of the home base.  I can always keep an address of  a brother etc here in NJ, but I will no longer have a home in my name.  Will that be a problem for tax reasons while travelling and staying with my sons while working?  What do you guys and gals think for my future?  I appreciate any input.  I want to be happy and at peace.  Thanks for any advice

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Keep your endoscopy job for at least a full year. As a traveler, your pay will be better. For more location choices, you can fall back on a med surg assignment.

To get tax benefits of being a traveler, you need to be working away from a legitimate tax home. This is a place where you actually live, incur expenses for rent or mortgage or taxes, and upkeep and return to "frequently". Without such a tax home, you are never working away from home to the IRS, have no "replacement" expenses or additional expenses incurred from working away from home, and owe income taxes on all compensation. Simply putting a relative's address on your tax return is not sufficient if you are audited.

Technically, if you are audited, you will also have to show housing expenses on assignments. These can be nominal. You can stay where you want, and any unused housing stipend goes into the bank and not reportable taxable income (as long as you have a tax home).

Good health insurance is expensive. No way around that. Often agency insurance is poor but when you are shopping agencies you can explore that. You then have several choices if that doesn't work out. First is to COBRA your existing insurance for 18 months, paying the full premium rather than the employer subsidized price. Second is a Marketplace plan. No subsidy there either, you make too much money. Third, Trump has allowed emergency insurance at lower rates, but you get what you pay for. Last, you can go without with no penalty.

Anxious about life and work? Seek counseling while you still have good insurance. As far as travel goes, you are much more of a disposable commodity than a staffer, but if you keep your head down, don't gossip, and be professional, you won't have a problem. Still, issues can always arise for other reasons as well and it is always good to have a Plan B, right? Sign up with more than one agency and don't put all your eggs in one basket.

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12 Posts; 729 Profile Views

Thank you so much for the advice.  I will certainly keep this in mind.

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109 Posts; 917 Profile Views

Hi, part of the answer to your question is going to be which states your kids live in and how the tax structure is set up in the individual state.  I recently read a book called, "Nomadland" and it is about older adults traveling around the country for work.  it is not about nurses but I learned quite a few details about how RV'ers use state residencies and move around.  If you have time you might want to check it out.  The traveling idea is also dependent upon which states you would be doing this in.  Some places are not using travelers anymore, and some work environments are worse than you could ever imagine coming from NJ.  ( I am from Mass).   

A divorce is like a death and it takes a long time to recover from it.  If you still have a stable living situation then I'd try to stay at your new job for a while longer.  

Don't be afraid to make a change though if you are sure about it!  Working in schools is always a plus because just about everyone has summers off.  Good luck and hang in there!

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109 Posts; 917 Profile Views

Forgot to add.  The second you quit your job you will be eligible for expanded medicaid in the liberal states- like WA or CA.  So, this worry is also dependent upon where you are moving.  Many states have expanded Medicaid, but if they are Republican it is harder to get on it.

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I don't know about all states, but in my state, unemployment doesn't get you Medicaid - it is your annual income that is the primary criteria based on your last year of work. As a traveler, you will easily exceed maximum income that is allowed for eligibility.

I would also caution against using any tax advice from RV books, or the otherwise helpful online forums. Having a mailing address is great, you need one for many purposes, including the IRS. But that is very different from residency, which is also a good way from a tax home. In an RV that you take with you, you can never be working away from your residence and thus not eligible for tax benefits for working away from home. 

A lot of fulltimers (as those who live in their RVs are called) are probably skirting state and federal tax laws. However, most make so little money that they pay very little income tax and are not a target for audit. The same could be said for many travelers whose agency tells them to just use a relative's address to get the tax free money.

We never read about the stories of travelers who get audited - it is too embarrassing to admit. Those who cheat for several years can owe a truly life changing amount of money in back taxes, interest, and penalties. TravelTax is perhaps the most prominent tax guy in our industry and he has to defend a lot of audits - free if you are a client (and he makes sure you sign accurate tax returns). They do free consults so if you are traveling for the first time, it is worth talking to a tax professional before you get into trouble. Recruiters are not tax experts. Not worth the risk.

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109 Posts; 917 Profile Views

If you quit your job, you dont get unemployment. I was more referring to the possibility if a permanent move, or moving between several states. Not necessarily as a traveler, but obviously, everyone has to follow the laws and they do differ state to state.

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