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Travel Nursing is Always an Adventure

Travel Article   (2,043 Views 37 Replies 1,328 Words)
by tinyRN72 tinyRN72, BSN (Member) Nurse

tinyRN72 has 6 years experience as a BSN and specializes in Cardiovascular Stepdown.

4 Articles; 2,495 Visitors; 71 Posts

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As an experienced travel nurse, I want to share the good, bad and the ugly about traveling. This article describes my experiences as a travel nurse. If you are thinking about getting into travel, you should read this article to learn what it is really like. You are reading page 3 of Travel Nursing is Always an Adventure. If you want to start from the beginning Go to First Page.

myoglobin has 11 years experience as a ASN, BSN, MSN and specializes in ICU, trauma, neuro.

3,632 Visitors; 504 Posts

The friend that I was referencing would actually designate a "room" as ours. Also, we would be able to use his address. Technically, we could return there anytime we wanted and when we actually "did" return home we would rent a different home where we would actually stay (which was bigger than a single room).  I might be technically illegal, but I doubt if this is ever actually prosecuted especially if there is an actual room that you are paying for that matches an actual address where you can receive mail. I've done this for a friend from Indiana who moved to Florida with us (he was supposed to pay us rent, but never did) and I still let him have a room and mailing address for a year (and gave him a good reference for several jobs, and also fed him when he was back on assignments and even helped him when his car broke down, and found him two local nursing jobs) .Much like having a nanny or baby sitter where you don't take out taxes (also technically illegal and other than costing a few political nominees in the past their jobs during congressional hearings has little actual downside, and potentially benefits the employee via higher wages, albeit at the cost of Social Security benefits and work comp). 

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tinyRN72 has 6 years experience as a BSN and specializes in Cardiovascular Stepdown.

4 Articles; 2,495 Visitors; 71 Posts

Great advice, NedRN. It's not worth it if you get audited! 

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tinyRN72 has 6 years experience as a BSN and specializes in Cardiovascular Stepdown.

4 Articles; 2,495 Visitors; 71 Posts

8 hours ago, NedRN said:

Wow, quite the potpourri of misinformation has suddenly been posted.

All travel companies that offer "tax advantage", a benefit for the added expenses of working away from home. They document minimal due diligence on their part with a housing form that they commonly will tell a new traveler to just use a relative's address and you will get the benefit. Some also use a 50 mile internal guideline for the same minimal due diligence to skate by the IRS. Agencies are not required to establish that travelers have actual tax homes as might be established in Tax Court, they have a business to run. They simply have to have minimal internal rules that back up the traveler's contention that they do have a legitimate tax home. The agency is not going to appear at a traveler's audit, nor have any liability to pay the traveler's back taxes, interest, and penalties.

50 miles is not a rule appearing in the Tax Code in regards to business expenses (which is what tax advantage is based on) and in no way "technically legal". There is a rule about moving expenses can be applied if you move to at least 50 miles from your current tax home, but if travelers "move", then they are not working away from home. Get it? Lots of permanent employees live farther than 50 miles from work, or travel more than an hour each way even if a shorter distance. Why would a travel nurse commuting from home be eligible for tax benefits and a permanent employee in the exact same circumstances not be eligible? Are we that credulous or greedy to ignore facts?


 

Thanks! And wow! I always believed my recruiter when they said that you had to travel at least 50 miles. It never really made sense to me from a "double expenses" stand point. Thanks for all the info and clarification. 

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I would suggest for those interested in learning more about tax homes to read the articles on PanTravelers or TravelTax. There are a number of possible fatal mistakes. Too much content to describe fully here, but since myoglobin is defending his/her strategies, let me point out some issues that will arise in an audit. If you are paying rent at your tax home, it must be something approaching a fair market price and you must have receipts. In addition, you must have more ties to the area than just a receipt. If you actually live there, you will have your car and driver's license listed there and have local activities and usually local health care providers. Voter registration? 

Yes, perhaps most first level auditors will not catch this, and perhaps most offenders will not be caught. But an audit potentially can wipe you out and perhaps through you into debt (depending on how long you have gone wrong). Definitely not worth the risk to be the one to be caught! You may not have heard of this happening (few will admit to an audit on social media), but if you ask a travel tax professional, they will scare the scrubs right off you.

 

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1 hour ago, tinyRN72 said:

Thanks! And wow! I always believed my recruiter when they said that you had to travel at least 50 miles. It never really made sense to me from a "double expenses" stand point. Thanks for all the info and clarification. 

Your recruiter was telling you the agency line in that they would not place you within 50 miles because they would then not be able to give you tax free stipends, at least on the check if not at the end of the year. Unfortunately, minimum internal agency standards are a race to the bottom as agencies recognize that a new (or even experienced) traveler will go to a competing agency if they pay more net money.

50 miles is kind of a moot point for placement anyway as many hospitals have rules about accepting travelers who live within say 200 miles of them. They don't want to pollute the local labor market by paying some nearby nurses more money as travelers than staff. 

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15 minutes ago, NedRN said:

Yes, perhaps most first level auditors will not catch this, and perhaps most offenders will not be caught.

Just to add a bit more to the moral arithmetic here, most shoplifters don't get caught either. That doesn't make it right, and the consequences to a registered nurse could be severe if caught shoplifting - like losing your license to practice. That is a less likely consequence for tax home fraud absent criminal charges (rare indeed), but the potential for life changing financial damages are real. Not sure that most nurses would go ahead and play the odds on either behavior knowing the real risks involved.

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myoglobin has 11 years experience as a ASN, BSN, MSN and specializes in ICU, trauma, neuro.

3,632 Visitors; 504 Posts

3 hours ago, NedRN said:

I would suggest for those interested in learning more about tax homes to read the articles on PanTravelers or TravelTax. There are a number of possible fatal mistakes. Too much content to describe fully here, but since myoglobin is defending his/her strategies, let me point out some issues that will arise in an audit. If you are paying rent at your tax home, it must be something approaching a fair market price and you must have receipts. In addition, you must have more ties to the area than just a receipt. If you actually live there, you will have your car and driver's license listed there and have local activities and usually local health care providers. Voter registration? 

Yes, perhaps most first level auditors will not catch this, and perhaps most offenders will not be caught. But an audit potentially can wipe you out and perhaps through you into debt (depending on how long you have gone wrong). Definitely not worth the risk to be the one to be caught! You may not have heard of this happening (few will admit to an audit on social media), but if you ask a travel tax professional, they will scare the scrubs right off you.

 

I'm not sure that I meet most of your criteria even now (and I've lived here for 10 years in Florida).

a.  I'm not registered to vote (don't want to get called for jury duty).

b.  I do not have health insurance. I go to CVS if sick.

c. I have no relatives or friends save for my SO.

d. I have no vehicles in my name (they are in my SO's name) all paid and all old (both minivans).

e. The rent is in my SO's name.

f. My bank account is still from Indiana (never changed it when we moved).

g. My school is in Indiana.

h.  Only my job, my driver's license, and my credit cards, my Anytime Fitness (which is national) have Florida as a home address, but all of my transactions are online (including payment). My "plan B" has always been to "live in my car" (well I don't really have a vehicle, but I figure that my SO would let me have our 2001 Honda with 400K miles for pretty cheap given that it's Blue Book value is about $300.00 it runs perfect) if things went South with my SO and to work as a travel nurse and use my Anytime Fitness membership to take showers. 

i. All utilities are in my SO's name. 

Keep in mind I'm not a travel nurse and don't plan to be, but I'm not sure I would meet your criteria even though I'm legitimately a Florida resident.  Indeed, if I took Dave up on his $200.00 per month offer I would probably have "more ties" than I do now since I would at least have one friend who's house I actually visit. Also, Travis (my friend referenced above) actually lived with us the first year he/we moved down here from Indiana despite not paying rent.  Also, wouldn't the "audit defense" that I pay for with Turbo Tax defend me? Also, doesn't fraud require intent? I have no intent to defraud anyone Dave would actually give me a room for $200.00 per month and let me get mail (and probably feed me if I asked him to and threw in a few cases of beer and drove when he and Patty went out drinking once in awhile when I was in town).  Has anyone ever been prosecuted for this in the context of travel nursing with facts that even roughly resemble those described above? Also, I have no assets only debt for the IRS to take and if they put me in prison I would frankly probably eat better, and exercise more. Given that I owe 160K in student loan debt it may be my best shot at a retirement plan.

Edited by myoglobin

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You do have a tax home! The standard is a preponderance of evidence, not a single item. With zero corroborating evidence per earlier post that presents a problem. You have a historical long term residence and live with a common law partner. Not even close. 

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myoglobin has 11 years experience as a ASN, BSN, MSN and specializes in ICU, trauma, neuro.

3,632 Visitors; 504 Posts

My point is that most people who do travel nursing will be in one of two situations. They own a home in which case they would want to rent the home both to offset expenses and  to ensure that it doesn’t sit empty. Conversely, like me they may be renters and are not going to pay rent and let their place sit empty if they have a choice. You may even have someone like my buddy Travis who really does live somewhere but is going through a rough time and not paying rent, but who really does live at his home base. In all three of these situations these people will take as much of their travel pay as possible as expense reimbursement to minimize taxes. I’ve probably talked to a hundred travel nurses over the years and they all did this (three even avoided about 150k in student loans because their taxable income always showed low enough that they didn’t have to pay and the loans were eventually forgiven despite earning over 100k during that time each year as travel nurses.). Based upon what you are saying most travel nurses would be getting convicted of tax fraud, yet I’ve never heard of even one have thus happen.

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Any crime works for the perpetrator if they don't get caught. Thus it is morally acceptable? I would suggest you don't say anything further, you have mentioned helping one fraud, and have pointed out three others.

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myoglobin has 11 years experience as a ASN, BSN, MSN and specializes in ICU, trauma, neuro.

3,632 Visitors; 504 Posts

58 minutes ago, NedRN said:

Any crime works for the perpetrator if they don't get caught. Thus it is morally acceptable? I would suggest you don't say anything further, you have mentioned helping one fraud, and have pointed out three others.

What fraud are you talking about? There was no fraud in my friend Travis living with me (he wasn't even working as a travel nurse). My buddy Dave made a serious offer to rent a room at his house for a couple hundred a month which I would presumably return to between assignments (again no fraud).  Also in the post above I wasn't suggesting that I didn't have a legal tax home only that the examples that you cite to have one (friends and family, automobiles, and local ties ) don't apply to everyone. The other people were just random nurses that I spoke with over the years at work who maintained everything they did was legal and had been run through their accountants.  I am a curious person and I like to know how things work and there is no question that I won't ask and no angle that I won't contemplate to get greater understanding of a situation.  This is real simple what do you suggest that the "proper" is to get paid as a travel nurse? Every travel nurse company of which I am aware pays a portion of the pay as non taxable living expenses and usually a lessor amount as wages (which are taxable).  Have you worked as a travel nurse or known others that have? What method did they utilize that passes "legal" muster from your perspective?

Edited by myoglobin

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On 7/5/2019 at 10:10 AM, myoglobin said:

The friend that I was referencing would actually designate a "room" as ours. Also, we would be able to use his address. Technically, we could return there anytime we wanted and when we actually "did" return home we would rent a different home where we would actually stay (which was bigger than a single room).  I might be technically illegal, but I doubt if this is ever actually prosecuted especially if there is an actual room that you are paying for that matches an actual address where you can receive mail. I've done this for a friend from Indiana who moved to Florida with us (he was supposed to pay us rent, but never did) and I still let him have a room and mailing address for a year (and gave him a good reference for several jobs, and also fed him when he was back on assignments and even helped him when his car broke down, and found him two local nursing jobs) .Much like having a nanny or baby sitter where you don't take out taxes (also technically illegal and other than costing a few political nominees in the past their jobs during congressional hearings has little actual downside, and potentially benefits the employee via higher wages, albeit at the cost of Social Security benefits and work comp). 

What you are describing is fraud. Not even ignorance of the law could be claimed here. You clearly know it is wrong.

If you want to learn more, I've already cited several authoritative sources. 

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