More tax tips for travel nurses

Image: Jason Reed | Photodisc | Getty Images

Many nurses choose the life of a traveler to explore, seek out adventure and earn some extra cash.

But if you want to make the most of your paychecks, it’s best to set up a system ahead of time to track your expenses. That way, when tax time comes, you won’t be frantically sorting through mountains of paperwork, and you’ll be sure to get back every penny you’re due. With the dawn of the new year, now is the perfect time to get in the habit!

I found Microsoft Excel’s spreadsheets the best way to sort out my finances, so I have segments from my own worksheets posted here. I like how the program allows you to add and subtract, make totals, etc., but don’t worry—any old notebook will do. Here’s how to get started:

1) Determine which expenses are tax deductible and keep track of them!
2) Consult your recruiter to find out which of these expenses your company will reimburse.
3) On one page of your notebook, or on one spreadsheet, list those expenses, what the company actually reimbursed and what remains.

Expenses reimbursed by my travel agency

I was reimbursed for my California nursing license, but never for my Washington state license.

4) On a separate sheet or spreadsheet, list all other tax deductible expenses. Include expenses if they were never reimbursed by your travel company, or not completely reimbursed.

Tax deductible expenses

I was reimbursed for travel, but it did not cover the cost of my rental car. Therefore, I could write off $45 of the cost on my taxes.

And you’re done! Sure, you still need to keep those receipts somewhere safe, but all you need to turn in to your accountant is that second sheet or spreadsheet.

Long gone are the days where travelers earn top salaries to fill needs. Contrary to popular belief, a traveler would be lucky to earn more than a fellow staff nurse. The best way to make the most of your money is to get reimbursed for your expenses, and the best way to do that is to stay organized!

[main image: Jason Reed | Photodisc | Getty Images]


Andrea Eichholzer

Andrea Eichholzer is a Pediatric Intensive Care nurse who has worked at some of the top children’s hospitals in the country. She is also a contributor to the Penn Nursing blog. She retired from traveling this fall and is pursuing her master’s degree. She lives in Philadelphia.

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One Response to More tax tips for travel nurses

  1. LPN Wendy

    Wow- what a great way to stay organized. For somebody who dreads tax season, who do you find out for sure what is tax deductible and what is not? I think this a great article for travelers who have to keep track of the various states they’ve been in that year and even possibly file in more than one state. Using the excel spreadsheet is a great point of advice too. Staying on top of this throughout the year is the most important part of getting all of your deductions back. Perhaps an article detailing what the common tax deductions are for an RN would be helpful for some because I have heard that even your scrubs and nursing shoes can be counted as deductions? Good article with the impending doom of tax season looming…