Road trip!! I get excited about driving long distances. I have braved the long drive from coast to coast just because I enjoy seeing what our great country has to offer. As a travel nurse it could prove to be financially beneficial. I know you ask how can that be. Let me explain.
When you drive you are in control. Once you have your assignment you can decide when you want to leave and how long you want to take to get there. If you have extra time you might do some site seeing or visit friends or family all along the way.
You can certainly pack more of your personal belongings to take since you are not bound by luggage requirements. It makes packing a little easier when you don’t have to decide which pairs of shoes or how many pairs of slacks to take. If you have sports, hobbies or crafts that have equipment, you may want to take with you for those down times.
You may be happy to know that the majority of expenses from using your car to travel to assignments are tax-deductible.
As a travel RN when you use your personal vehicle to an assignment, it’s considered as a business expense. You can take these business expenses on your tax return in a couple of ways: the actual expense method or the standard mileage rate. I personally find that in most cases, the standard mileage rate is better as a traveler since it gives a greater deduction and requires less paperwork (no keeping up with all those receipts).
The standard mileage rate for 2016 is 54 cents per mile, for business miles driven per the IRS. This means that every 100 miles you drive, you get $54 back. If you’re driving across the country for an assignment that can make a difference in your taxes at the end of the year.
However, unfortunately, if you receive reimbursement from your travel nurse agency you can’t get the IRS reimbursement for the same trip. So basically, you must reduce any deduction by reimbursements you receive. Also, you must be working away from your tax home (permanent residence) to deduct the expenses.
If you decide to use the standard rate deduction, be sure to keep a mileage log that states the time, place and purpose for each business trip. I use a great app for my phone called MileIQ
The above app is great for tracking miles since it will start tracking every time you get into your car to drive. You can go back later and classify the miles and then at tax time it will give you a detailed report.
Note: I am not a tax expert but can speak from experience. I never mind paying my fair share of taxes but always want to make sure I take all of the allowable deductions. Please contact your tax professional for any questions you may have.