Everything You Need To Know About Residency as a Travel Nurse
One of the biggest allures of travel nursing is the ability to jump from assignment to assignment and location to location. But travel nurses need somewhere to call home. It’s not just about having a place to hang your hat between assignments. Many other implications are tied to residency, including tax and voting criteria.
Here’s what you need to know about residency if you’re embarking on a travel nursing career that takes you anywhere but home.
For travel nurses, residency can be tricky. Essentially, your residency status determines how much you owe in taxes and to whom, so it’s important to get it right.
First, you must consider whether you want to have a permanent residence for tax purposes or to be “itinerant” in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service, which means you’ll be a “resident” of the state where you spend the most time working. For most travel nurses, it’s wise to have a permanent residence (tax home) to simplify your taxes and ensure you qualify for tax-free travel nursing stipends. If you’re itinerant, you’ll want to talk with a tax professional to understand your tax liability.
Generally, if you stay in a state for more than a certain number of days (which varies by state), you’re considered a resident. Other factors can also affect your residency status, such as your intent, your ties to the state (your tax home), and the time you spend there in a calendar year. It’s about where you have a presence.
Establishing residency as a travel nurse
Why is residency so pressing for travel nurses? While maintaining a permanent address may seem daunting — or even a waste of time — it’s essential for many reasons. Besides determining your tax liability, residency is crucial for everything from obtaining a driver’s license to voting in local elections. It can even impact your ability to get prescriptions filled or packages shipped to you.
The primary thing to remember about residency as a travel nurse is your “home” might be where you spend the least amount of time in a given year. Yet, while you’re off on assignment, it’s ultimately the place you’re tied to for important documentation purposes.
Specific residency requirements may differ from state to state. But with the appropriate records — like lease agreements and utility bills — you can prove your residency and establish your home base.
Residency and its tax implications
As mentioned previously, one of the main reasons to establish residency is to simplify your taxes. In doing this, you must also consider that each new assignment away from your state of residency comes with different tax implications. For example, check for deductions related to travel and housing expenses, such as temporary housing allowances and per diems. By staying informed, making use of available resources, and seeking expert advice, you can make your tax season less stressful.
Keep ties to your home base
Although your primary location might change every 13 weeks as you shift assignments, always have a home base you can revert back to. Residency affects everything from where you send your mail to where you file your taxes and vote. Wherever it is, you should have some place to call home — even if you’d rather spend your days on assignment, hopping from one locale to the next.