To Drive or Not to Drive to Assignment

drivingtoassignment

I love driving over the road.  Maybe in another life, I would have been a truck driver.  That said part of the process of choosing an assignment is whether to drive or fly.  I have made the trip coast to coast alone  about once a year for many years,

Driving gives you the opportunity to see the country at ground level.  It might be beneficial to financially to drive as well.

Convenience

You are in control when you drive.  Once you know your destination you can decide when to leave and how long to get there.  Maybe you give yourself some time to site see or visit friends or family along the way.

Best of all you pack more of your personal belongings that you might need and are not bound by luggage requirements. Packing becomes less stressful as you try to decide which pairs of shoes or how many pairs of slacks to take.  You can consider taking along sports equipment or craft items for the hobbies you enjoy in your off time.

Business Expenses  

Our tax laws have changed and many items are no longer tax deductible.  My research shows that mileage and unreimbursed travel expenses to and from a new assignment may still be deductible.

Using your personal vehicle to travel to an assignment is considered as a business expense. You may be able to expenses on your tax return a couple of ways: using actual expenses or using a standard mileage rate. I usually find the standard mileage rate is best.  With a standard deduction, there is less paperwork and no receipts are needed.

The standard mileage rate for 2019 is 58 cents per mile driven according to the IRS.  Driving across the country for an assignment that can make a difference in your taxes at the end of the year.

Remember these are unreimbursed mileage from your agency or hospital.  If all miles are not covered then reduce any deduction by reimbursements you receive.  You must be working away from your permanent residence in order to deduct the expenses.

When you decide to use the standard rate deduction you must be sure to track your mileage in a log that states the time, place and purpose for each business trip. I like to use an app on my phone and the best one I have found is called MileIQ

MileIQ is an easy to use app for tracking miles.  When the app is on it will begin tracking every time you get into your car to drive.  You can later classify the miles for the trip and at tax time you will have a detailed report.

Resources

A great resource for preparing for your taxes as a travel nurse is a professional tax expert with Travel Tax. You can also read current rules for 2019 at IRS

Please Note:   I am not a tax expert but do speak from experience.  Paying taxes is part of living in this great country but I always want to make sure I take all legally allowable deductions.  Make sure you contact your tax professional for any questions you may have.

 

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Cheryl Roby, RN

Cheryl J. Roby is a Registered Nurse and retired US Army Reserve Nurse Major. She has more than 30 years of nursing experience and 26 years of military experience in the Army Nurse Corp. During her nursing career, she has traveled as part of her military experience visiting many of the 50 states and to South Korea. She was trained as an Army Medic during the Vietnam era and later as an OR tec. She went on to become a Licensed Practical Nurse and then completed her nursing training as a Registered Nurse. She was then commissioned as an officer in the Army Reserves. She appreciated the challenge of working in various specialties and expanding her clinical and professional skill sets. Her time in the Army Reserves and California National Guard gave her the opportunity to travel to most of the 50 states and work in other medical facilities. During her career, she had the opportunity to work in several specialties to include, OR, Occupational Health, Hospice, Sexual Assault Team, Forensic/ Correctional Nurse, Nurse Case Manager for developmental disabilities, Parish Nursing as well as a Nurse Entrepreneur.

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