Travel Nurse Tax Guide 2023

Navigating tax requirements as a travel nurse can be daunting. With different tax amounts for each state you work in, it’s essential to understand the intricacies of travel nurse taxes. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to confidently handle your taxes as a travel nurse.

Travel Nurse Taxes + Income Breakdown

Travel nurses receive both a base hourly pay and additional non-taxed “payments” that make up their total compensation. These additional stipends cover expenses like meals, housing, and work-related costs. While the base rate may be modest, the combination of the base pay and stipends is what determines your actual income as a travel nurse.

It’s important to note that standardized bill rates are set for each license covered by the contract. Negotiating a higher bill rate based on your salary history or work experience is typically not possible.

According to tax expert Joseph Smith, most travel nurses can expect to receive $20,000-$30,000 of non-tax reimbursement payments in a typical year.

Qualifying For Non-Taxable Income

To avoid being taxed on stipend payments, you must establish a “tax home” to the IRS. A tax home refers to the city or general area where your main place of business or work is located. There are two main ways to qualify for a tax home:

  1. If your primary area of residence is also your main area of income (which typically doesn’t apply to travel nurses).

  2. If you visit your primary residence at least once every 12 months and can prove that you are paying expenses to maintain it.

It’s crucial to ensure that you meet the requirements for establishing a tax home in order to collect your non-taxable stipends, as most travel nursing agencies will not verify this for you.

What About State Taxes?

As a travel nurse, you need to file your taxes by the April 15th deadline, just like any other US citizen. However, due to work in multiple states, you may need to file a non-resident tax return in every state you’ve worked in, as well as in your permanent tax home state.

Travel Nurse Tax Tips

To make tax preparation easier, keep a receipt book to organize your paperwork. It’s also wise to keep both digital receipts and paper copies as backups. Your receipts should include expenses related to housing, mileage, uniforms, utilities, work-related courses or certifications, meals, and internet/phone providers.

While federal tax reform laws have limited job expense deductions, some states still allow them. Check if your state qualifies for additional deductions.

To minimize the risk of an audit, work with a certified tax professional familiar with travel healthcare professionals. Relying solely on your recruiter or agency for tax advice is not recommended.

Lower Taxable Income Considerations

While non-tax stipends may seem like a great perk, they can impact your taxable income. This can affect your loan/mortgage qualification, disability payments, and Social Security eligibility. If you anticipate needing a loan or mortgage, communicate with your lender in advance and consider working with a lender familiar with travel nursing pay structures. Older nurses nearing retirement may choose to declare their stipends as taxable income to maximize their Social Security benefits.

Remember, this guide provides information but not tax advice. Consult with a CPA or tax professional before filing your tax return.

For more insights on travel nursing taxes, visit

Travel Nurse Tax FAQs

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