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Travel RN Taxes: On your own or with a CPA?

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Specializes in Pulmonary & Cardiothoracic Critical Care. Has 13 years experience.

As a traveler, how do you file your taxes?

  1. 1. As a traveler, how do you file your taxes?

    • I use my own certified public accountant (CPA)
    • I use an internet-based tax prepare software such as TurboTax or TaxAct
    • 0
      I file using the paper form
    • 0
      I use a CPA who specializes in travel nurse taxes

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Hi all: Just a quick question regarding tax filing here in the US. Prior to the end of this year, I last traveled in 2006-2008. I wondered if most travelers file their own taxes using a third-party software/web app (TurboTax, TaxAct) or if you use a CPA. In the past, I've used a CPA that does travel nursing taxes specifically - and although the CPA cost a bit more, I have always been happy with the results.

However, now with Turbo Tax that I've been using for the last few years, I'm curious if this is just the easier way to go as I enter all my expenses. Curious, if anyone has any comments specifically regarding the per diem rate rule and if these programs are able to calculate that out. The only thing I'm not sure if I can itemized is gas expenses while on assignment.

If you are talking about calculating maximum per diems from the GSA site and subtracting the stipend your agency actually gave you, no. You will have to do that yourself, and if you use a tax return specialist, you will have to inform them about both numbers anyway (possibly just location and dates). Add extra days for your travel time to and from home (or last/next assignment). This does not include housing, if you spend more than your

Travel miles both RT to home (or your next assignment) as well as your commute miles from your assignment facility to your assignment housing are deductible at 54 cents a mile for 2016.

All of these items most CPAs will get wrong. Use a traveler specialist to make sure you are not over deducting (double dipping) or under deducting.

Personally, I do my own taxes. What is difficult is not federal taxes (if you have a good grasp on the rules and have a valid tax home), but state taxes. All the tax specialists for travelers are also multistate taxation (and usually Canada as well) experts. It is not impossible for sure, but you have to do all the work states before your home state tax return and be aware of any interstate agreements (usually just in adjacent states but there are some weird exceptions). I'm not sure if TurboTax will do file the states properly, but it will save you a good bit of work versus doing say three different state returns plus your home state (probably worst case for most travelers). I will say that the tax preparation bill goes up dramatically the more states you work in, so you will save more by doing your own in that case (but spend more time).

Your bio says you are from San Francisco. If you are only working in California, do check if you are following the tax home rules (if you are only working in the Bay area, you might not be). Again, any of the specialists will keep you on the straight and narrow.