Travel Nursing Myths

Travel Nursing Myths

Travel nursing has been on the rise and yet there is still some negative stigma associated with it. There are many myths that are spoken about regarding travel nursing. Many nurses have different opinions about travel nursing and this is the perfect way to clear the air.

  1. Travel Nurses Qualify for Tax-Free Money if They’re 50 Miles Away

    • The 50-mile rule is that allows nurses to get tax-free money on certain expenses. For a nurse to benefit from this tax credit they need to be 50+ miles away from their permanent home address. 
    • Not everything is untaxed. The IRS allows businesses to pay tax-free reimbursements for lodging and meals & incidental expenditures when the employee needs to sleep or rest to meet the demands of work while away from their tax home.
  2. Travel Nurses Can Work At Home For A few weeks a Year To Continue Receiving Tax-Free Money

    • A common thing to hear about tax-free money is that you can continue taking travel assignments at the same hospital for as long as you want and all you have to do is return home to work a few shifts for a week or two every year.
    • There is no hard rule on this, the rule of thumb is to never work in one location for more than 12 months in any 24 month period.
    • The IRS considers your tax-home to be your main place of business. Many IRS court cases have established that if you spend the majority of your work time in one location, then your tax-home will shift to that location.
  3. Travel Nurses Make $10 an Hour

    • This is another travel nurse myth that many believe. Why would a nurse accept a job that pays 10/hr. This is done to maximize your nontaxable benefit. 
    • The 10/hr is your taxable hourly base rate. This is the money you will be taxed on. Doing this causes the nurse to have a higher net income.
    • Travel agencies pair up a low base pay that is taxable with a higher non-taxable benefit pay. 
    • You’ll often hear that taking a really low hourly wage will “raise a red flag.” This refers to an increased chance of being audited. Even though there is no standard base rate the agency should stay within market standards to avoid an audit. 
  4. The Travel Agency Needs All of Your Paperwork Before They Can Work With You

    • This isn’t true. The agency can give you information regarding work and pay prior to you submitting more information.
    • They need a minimum amount of information to give you a rough estimate of what you can be making and where. 
    • There is a lot of paperwork and information to submit prior to accepting a contract so sometimes an agency might bait you into doing all that work to lock you in
  5. Travel Nurses Always Float

    • Usually, as a travel nurse, you will be the first to float. This is not always the case. It depends on their staffing and your contract. 
    • One contract you may float many times another you can be strictly in your assigned unit. You can always talk to a charge nurse or a manager and arrange for you to not always be first to float.
    • You can ask your recruiter if they can add it to your contract but it is not a common clause. 
  6. Travel Nurses Only Get Paid 1.5x Their Hourly Taxable Rate

    • Only getting 1.5x your base rate of $10 or $20 is not much. 
    • The overtime law does state that an employee needs to make 1.5x their hourly taxable rate when picking up overtime. 
      • The law is not set to be standard but be the minimum amount and employees should be paid. 
    • Overtime rate will vary by agency, they can easily pay you more than 1.5x your taxable base rate. 
  7. Most Nurses Get Ripped Off

    • Essentially you are one of the products in travel nursing and just like in any sales position people will take advantage of one another. 
    • There are certainly cases where travel nurses get the short end of the bargain when it comes to pay packages. The majority of nurses a well paid and reimbursed.
    • Ripping off travel nurses would not be a good business strategy for long-term success.
    • We are bug proponent of travelers negotiating their whole contract with their agencies
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