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Travel Nurse Taxes – Everything You Need to Know About It

The profession of being a travel nurse requires great adaptability and mobility. To ensure that travel nurse taxes don’t slow you down, let’s cover the basics of tax management – so you can stay on top without any hassle.

Taxable Income for Travel Nurses

income of travel

When it comes to being a travel nurse, you gotta know what’s taxable and what isn’t! Part of your compensation might include additional payments called stipends that cover expenses like food and housing. These are meant to reimburse you for the money you spend while living away from home and doing your nursing duties. So, be sure to handle that cash wisely and get your taxes squared away! 

Travel Nurse Deductions and Expenses


To optimize your tax situation as a travel nurse, it’s crucial to identify and leverage deductible expenses. By claiming these deductions, you can potentially reduce your taxable income and lower your overall tax liability. Let’s explore some common deductions available to travel nurses:

1. Travel Expenses:

Transportation Costs: This includes airfare, mileage, parking fees, and tolls incurred while traveling between your home and work locations.

Lodging Expenses: You can deduct the cost of temporary housing while on assignment, including hotel stays or rental accommodations.

Car Rental or Taxi Fees: If you need to rent a car or use taxis for work-related purposes, these expenses can be deductible.

2. Housing Expenses:

Temporary Housing Costs: If you incur expenses for maintaining a temporary residence while on assignment, such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, and insurance, these expenses may be deductible.

Meals and Incidentals: While you cannot typically deduct the cost of meals, you may be eligible for a per diem allowance, discussed further in section V.

3. Licensing and Certification Costs:

Fees associated with obtaining or renewing professional licenses required for your travel nursing assignments may be deductible.

Costs incurred for maintaining certifications or meeting continuing education requirements can also be eligible for deductions.

4. Continuing Education Expenses:

Getting your feet wet in the professional development world starts with understanding how to make deductions. It is imperative that you keep thorough records of all expenses, including fees for conferences, workshops, courses and study materials. Be sure to save any corresponding documents like receipts or invoices!

This way, when it comes to claim these deductions, you will have all the proof and documentation that is necessary.

Duplication of Expenses for Travel Nurses

Housing for travel nurses|

As a travel nurse, you may encounter situations where expenses seem to overlap or duplicate, which can complicate your tax situation. Understanding how to handle these scenarios is crucial to avoid confusion and ensure accurate reporting. Let’s delve into the topic of duplication of expenses in more detail.

Duplicated expenses occur when you have overlapping expenses between your tax home and your temporary work location. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides guidelines to determine if expenses are truly duplicated and whether they can be claimed as deductions. To determine if an expense is truly duplicative, you need to establish that it is necessary and directly related to your work assignments.

When claiming deductions for duplicated expenses, it’s essential to maintain accurate records and documentation to support your claims. Keep track of your travel itineraries, assignment locations, and the dates you incurred specific expenses. This documentation will demonstrate that the expenses were necessary for your travel nurse assignments and can help support your deductions during an audit.

Here are a few examples of common situations involving duplication of expenses:

Temporary Housing: If you maintain a tax home and also have temporary housing at your work location, the expenses for both may appear to overlap. However, you can potentially deduct the expenses related to maintaining your tax home and the necessary expenses for temporary housing while on assignment. It’s important to clearly differentiate and substantiate each expense to avoid any confusion.

Travel Costs:

Travel expenses, such as transportation between your tax home and work locations, may also seem duplicative. To claim these expenses, ensure you have proper documentation, such as receipts, travel itineraries, and proof of work-related travel.

Meals and Incidentals:

Per diem allowance given by employers to cover expenses like meals and incidentals during your assignment should be taken into consideration, as these costs cannot be deducted if they have already been provided for in the per diem payments. 

To minimize duplication of expenses and maximize your deductions, it’s crucial to maintain accurate records and consult with a tax professional experienced in travel nurse taxation. They can provide guidance specific to your situation and help ensure compliance with tax regulations.

Tax Home and Per Diem Allowance

Understanding the concept of a tax home and its connection to per diem allowance is crucial for travel nurses. Your tax home is your primary place of work or employment, even if you work in different locations throughout the year. It establishes your tax residency and affects how certain expenses are treated for tax purposes. Additionally, per diem allowances, if structured correctly, can be treated as nontaxable income. Let’s explore these concepts in more detail:

  • Tax Home: Wherever your main job is, that’s your tax home – regardless of where you have your long-term place of residence. This gets decided based on some aspects such as the spot of regular employment, how much time you invest in a particular location and where you keep your personal items. Having knowledge about what is considered to be a tax home is significant for the purpose of understanding if you can or cannot claim deductible expenses on travel and housing. 


  • Per Diem Allowance: Per diem is a daily allowance provided to cover accommodations, meals and other incidental expenses when you are away from your home. In most cases, per diem allowances will not be subject to federal income or payroll tax if they adhere to the IRS-set standards for certain locations. However, should your employer pay you an amount over the set standard or fail to substantiate your expenses, the excess could be subject to taxation. To avoid this and remain compliant with the IRS, it is essential that you keep accurate records such as receipts and travel itineraries.

So, following these guidelines will ensure that your per diem allowance remains nontaxable income.

Travel Nurse Taxes (For State)

In addition to federal taxes, travel nurses must also navigate the complexities of state taxes. Each state has its own tax regulations, residency requirements, and filing obligations. Here are some key considerations:

  • Tax Residency: Knowing your state tax residency is key, as each one carries its own set of requirements. It may be determined based on the amount of time you spend working in a certain area and if there’s an intention to make it a permanent residence.


  • State Tax Filing Obligations: While not always living in said state, you may still need to file state tax returns if income is made there. States are either part of reciprocity agreements or require distinct filings. It’s best to know the rules beforehand.


  • State-Specific Considerations: Each state may have additional tax considerations that impact travel nurses. These could include rules regarding deductions, exemptions, credits, or specific regulations for healthcare professionals. Being aware of these state-specific considerations is essential for accurate tax reporting and compliance.


What qualifies as a tax home for travel nurses?

If you’re a travel nurse, the place of business that is most relevant for taxation purposes is normally your primary workplace regardless of where you call home. This is determined by taking a look at certain factors such as where your main job is situated, how much time you spend in any one spot and what belongings are held there. It’s important to correctly identify your tax home as it impacts the ability to deduct traveling and accommodation outgoings. 

Can travel nurses deduct their travel expenses?

Travel costs incurred while journeying between your main residence and work sites on a temporary basis are often deductible. Costs such as airfare, mileage, parking fees, and tolls can be deducted. It’s essential to have precise records of these deductions as they may be subject to certain requirements and restrictions – it is good practice to consult with a tax expert to make sure that the information is accurately reported. 

How does the tax treatment of housing expenses work for travel nurses?

Housing expenses for travel nurses can be complex. Temporary housing costs, such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, and insurance, may be deductible if they are directly related to your travel nursing assignments. However, expenses related to your permanent residence are typically not deductible. Proper record-keeping is essential to substantiate these expenses and differentiate them from personal living expenses.

Are meals and incidentals deductible for travel nurses?

While you cannot typically deduct the cost of meals, travel nurses may be eligible for a per diem allowance. Per diem refers to a daily allowance provided to cover lodging, meals, and incidentals while you are away from your tax home. If your employer pays you within the IRS-established per diem rates or reimburses you for actual expenses, this allowance is generally not subject to federal income tax or payroll taxes.

Can travel nurses claim licensing and certification costs as deductions?

Yes, travel nurses can generally claim licensing and certification costs as deductions. This includes fees paid for obtaining or renewing professional licenses required for your travel nursing assignments. Additionally, costs associated with maintaining certifications or meeting continuing education requirements can often be claimed as deductions. Keep detailed records of these expenses, including receipts and proof of payment, for proper substantiation.

How does per diem allowance affect travel nurse taxes?

Per diem pay can be exempt from taxation, so long as payments stay within IRS standards or expenses are documented. Any additional money not properly recorded could then be subject to taxes. To ensure the allowance stays tax-free, make sure it is structured correctly and all receipts for the expenses remain on file. With this information in hand, you can easily avoid any taxable issues from arising. 

What are the common state tax issues faced by travel nurses?

Common state tax issues faced by travel nurses include determining state tax residency, understanding state-specific tax laws and regulations, and complying with various state filing requirements. Each state has its own rules regarding taxation, residency requirements, and filing obligations. It’s crucial to understand the specific requirements of each state where you work to ensure compliance with state tax laws.

How should travel nurses handle multiple state tax filings?

Travel nurses may be called upon to file state tax returns in multiple places, depending on where they have earned their wages. Certain states allow for reciprocity agreements so that separate filings can be avoided; however, some require individual ones. Thus, it is important to investigate the applicable state laws and regulations, get in touch with a tax expert, and make sure all filing requirements are met. Doing so will ensure accuracy and compliance. 

What documentation should travel nurses keep for tax purposes?

Tax records are important for travel nurses to keep track of. Maintaining complete documentation of travel itineraries, assignment locations, and dates should be done in addition to receipts and invoices related to deductible expenses such as transportation costs, lodging fees, and licensing/certification expenditures. To get started with the process of keeping organized documents for income tax purposes, here are some of the key documents necessary:

Travel-related documentation:

  • Travel itineraries and work assignment details
  • Receipts for airfare, train or bus tickets, and rental car expenses
  • Mileage logs and records of tolls and parking fees

Housing-related documentation:

  • Rental agreements or lease contracts for temporary housing
  • Mortgage statements or proof of homeownership for your tax home
  • Utility bills and insurance invoices for temporary housing

Meal and incidental expenses:

  • Per diem records provided by your employer
  • Receipts for meals and incidentals not covered by the per diem allowance

Licensing and certification expenses:

  • Receipts or invoices for licensing and renewal fees
  • Documentation of costs incurred for maintaining certifications or meeting continuing education requirements

State tax-related documentation:

  • Records of days worked in each state
  • State-specific tax forms and filings


  • Bank statements or payment records for tax preparation fees
  • Correspondence and notices from tax authorities
  • Any other relevant documents supporting your income, deductions, and credits


Remember, accurate record-keeping is key when it comes to travel nurse taxes. Keep thorough documentation of your travel itineraries, assignment details, receipts, and invoices for deductible expenses. This will not only help you substantiate your deductions but also provide peace of mind in the event of an audit.

Moreover, by consulting with a tax professional, staying informed about tax regulations, and maintaining meticulous records, you can confidently navigate the complexities of travel nurse taxes and ensure compliance with tax laws. 

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