I spoke with a recruiter today about a job that I am seriously considering. He did inform me of the hourly wage, travel allowance, but stated that the housing would be up to me. He states that most of their nurse’s stay at extended stay hotels for about 250-300 dollars a week. He explained that their company does things this way so that the contracted nurse get a tax break and starting throwing out numbers related to tax free salary. I do say I was very confused as other agencies have offered housing. He stated that other agencies take advantage of the tax free percentage of the salary by giving you the housing. Can you shed some light on this issue. I have only completed local travel contracts and am new to the game. The agency is Trustaff…do you know anything about them?
Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:
The first question I have for you is do you have a “tax home”? A tax home is not necessarily a house, but rather, a place or area where you normally do business (you’re normally employed there, have financial ties to the community, vote in that area, have your car registered there). If you do have a qualified “tax home”, then you are able to participate in these programs, if not, their point is moot.
If you do not have a “tax home” then under the eyes of the IRS, then you have to be taxed on your housing. This holds true whether or not you take the company provided housing or just take the housing subsidy. Of course, all of this can be VERY confusing to a new traveler, but you really HAVE to understand the tax implications of using these programs. A great resource to get you started is found on Joseph Smith’s website, TravelTax.com. Joseph is an Enrolled agent who holds a federal tax license and is an all around travel tax guru. It’s a bit hard to navigate to the FAQ page, but here is a direct link:
I encourage you to read EVERY little box on that page. It contains a ton of information to help you understand the tax implications of travel. He also does returns and will look at any tax advantage program for you for free (or at least last time I contacted him he said he’d still do that without charge).
While gaining more tax information is key, with what you explained, I still see issues. First, I doubt you want to stay in an extended stay hotel. Some people don’t mind them and if you REALLY need every single penny, I guess I can understand. However, I did a Phoenix assignment with my travel company and I had a condo in Ohio where I would live when I was not traveling. Since I had a “tax home”, I paid no tax on my housing (because in the eyes of the IRS, I was duplicating my living expenses while being on the road). They housed me in a gated apartment complex in a one bedroom, fully furnished unit. The complex had tennis courts, two pools (one heated), hot tubs, clubhouse, and workout facility (and this is just the typical amenities that I have on my assignments). Your housing is the place where you unwind at the end of the day. Don’t compromise on this aspect of your assignment. I think you’ll regret it.
Also, I mentioned that this housing was tax free. However, I also made extra money in my paycheck because I was participating in my company’s tax advantage program. Basically, they were giving me the IRS reimbursement that I could have just claimed on my taxes, earlier. So if you have a tax home, your housing should not be taxed and you should find extra money in your paycheck. The situation you described to me made it sound like the recruiter was representing an either/or scenario, but that might be my misunderstanding.
As for the company, I am often uncertain of what could potentially get me in hot water as far as my opinions on certain companies. I have no issue boasting about the ones I prefer, but if the case is otherwise, I prefer to “guide” people to the answers rather than giving them. With that in mind, here are a few reviews I found online:
If you need any contacts for companies I trust, feel free to email me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope this helps give you some info on tax issues and also helps get you on your way regarding travel.