Tax Deductions for Travel Nurses: Put Money Back in Your Pocket

Working as a travel nurse can be an excellent opportunity to earn more while helping out in underserved communities around the country. Whether you travel full-time or only for a few months of the year, when you work as a travel nurse, you’re often paid as a self-employed individual, opening the possibility to deduct business expenses. 

If you qualify for a stipend or full-time salary as a travel nurse, you may have additional deduction opportunities. Read on to learn about tax deductions for travel nurses. 

Who Can Claim Travel Nurse Tax Deductions?

Anyone who works as a travel nurse can claim travel nurse tax deductions. You may be eligible for tax deductions, reimbursements, and stipends for expenses necessary for your profession.

To claim stipends and reimbursements, you generally must work outside your validated tax home and demonstrate eligible expenses. Depending on where you work and the specific state tax laws, you may have to file and pay taxes for multiple states.

Common Tax Deductions for Travel Nurses

Whether traveling as a nurse is a side hustle or a full-time career, you may be eligible for various tax deductions for business expenses. Here is an overview of some common tax deductions for travel nurses.

Travel Reimbursements

Travel reimbursements for temporary posts and related out-of-pocket travel expenses qualify for tax-free reimbursements. Possible travel deductions include transportation by plane, car rentals, lodging expenses, and meals. If you’re driving, you’ll have to track mileage. More on that below. 

Medical Supplies and Equipment

If you purchase medical supplies out of pocket, that can be a deductible business expense. If you purchase and supply your own equipment while on the job, and your employer doesn’t reimburse those expenses, you can deduct medical supplies and equipment costs from your total income reported on your taxes.

Tax-deductible medical supplies and equipment include:

  • Gloves
  • Nursing shoes
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Thermometers
  • Stethoscopes
  • Penlight
  • Medical watch
  • Nursing scissors and tape
  • Clipboard
  • Other nursing and first-aid supplies.

Stipends for Housing, Meals, and Incidentals

If you receive a travel nurse stipend, it’s tax-free money used to cover your expenses while traveling and working as a travel nurse. You may use your nursing stipend for living expenses, including transportation, housing, and meals. 

However, this is only applicable while you’re working away from your regular tax home or a place of residence. Usually, you’ll still be paying housing costs like a mortgage or rent while also paying expenses at a travel location. Your primary residence is your tax home, while the travel location qualifies for travel stipend expenses. 

Education and Licensing Fees

Nurses must earn continuing education (CE) credits and maintain licensing. Fortunately, you can claim these expenses as business deductions. If you’re required to maintain or upgrade your current nursing qualification, you can deduct state-mandated CE programs, including tuition, books, and supplies.

You can also deduct other continuing education and professional development, including conferences, online classes, and self-directed study materials.

Professional Expenses

Professional expenses related to fulfilling your role as a traveling nurse can also be tax deductible. The IRS allows you to deduct business expenses that are common and necessary for the job you’re performing. In the case of traveling nurses, this can include:

  • Malpractice insurance 
  • Membership fees for professional nursing organizations
  • Attorney fees, accounting fees, and other professional costs
  • Nursing uniform expenses and cleaning, such as dry cleaning 

Office Supplies

While a traveling nurse will need minimal office supplies, all office-related expenses can be deducted as business expenses. Printers, computers, phones, letterhead, and other business products are deductible. 

Mileage and Car Deductions

If you make house calls or travel for work, mileage and car deductions for driving related to working as a traveling nurse can also be deductible for business expenses. You can itemize deductions and track expenses like gas, repairs, oil, insurance, car registration, maintenance, depreciation or lease payments, and other mileage costs. 

Or, you can take the IRS standard deduction. This usually results in a higher deduction. You’ll still need to track mileage, but you can deduct a flat rate of 65.5 cents per mile for 2023 and 67 cents per mile in 2024. 

Expenses that Travel Nurses Cannot Claim as Tax Deductions

While you can claim significant travel expenses, there are some expenses you cannot deduct as a travel nurse. These include:

  • Tax home expenses: You cannot deduct the cost of rent/mortgage, or regular living expenses while not working as a travel nurse. 
  • Life insurance premiums: If you’re the beneficiary, you cannot deduct life insurance costs. 
  • Fees from legal violations: You cannot deduct parking tickets, court fees, or other fees related to a legal violation. 
  • Regular commuting mileage: The mileage for commuting to work for an office away from home is not a deductible business expense. 

How to Prepare for Tax Filing and Monitor Tax Deductions for Travel Nurses?

To prepare tax filings and track deductions as a traveling nurse, consider these tips:

  • Track everything: You should keep receipts and file them carefully for all business expenses. Tracking software or apps can help you collect all expenses. 
  • Create digital files: To save time preparing taxes, request electronic receipts for all expenses. Alternatively, you can scan or photograph physical receipts and save them into a single folder or cloud-based drive so you don’t have to search later. 
  • Start early: Setting up clear accounting systems or using trusted accounting software like doola Books can save time and headaches when documenting travel and related nursing expenses. 
  • Consider getting help: As a busy professional, a certified public accountant or tax professional can help you prepare taxes or double-check allowed deductions for accurate filings. 

How to Claim Tax Write-Offs as a Travel Nurse on Your Tax Return?

As a self-employed traveling nurse, you usually report your 1099 income on Schedule C. To claim tax deductions, you can list your business-related expenses on Schedule C. After subtracting business expenses from income, you will input the difference on Schedule 1 of Form 1040. Tax preparation software can help you fill out these forms automatically after you input the relevant income and expenses. 

In addition, Section 179 of the IRC allows businesses to take an immediate deduction for business expenses of depreciable assets like computers, equipment, vehicles, and software. You can also learn more about filing self-employment tax here

Save More as a Traveling Nurse

Becoming a traveling nurse can be an exciting opportunity to earn more while serving underprivileged communities or understaffed medical centers. But tax preparation can be overwhelming, especially when you’re responsible for all deductions. That’s why excellent tax preparation software can be so valuable. 

Consider doola books to simplify bookkeeping and free up time to focus on your business goals. Or, get doola’s tax package to ensure compliance and online filings.

FAQs

Are there limits on how much I can deduct for certain expenses as a travel nurse?

Limits for traveling nurse expense deductions relate to how you’re paid. You can deduct all costs from your taxable income if you have an allowance. Otherwise, you may itemize tax deductions. 

If in doubt, speak with a CPA to understand the allowed deductions for your individual situation. 

What records should I keep to support my travel nurse tax deductions?

What records should I keep to support my travel nurse tax deductions?

You should keep all receipts and documentation of expenses while working as a traveling nurse. You should also keep mileage logs to track mileage for business use if you plan to take a mileage deduction. Consider software options to help you track these deductions. 

How do tax deductions affect my overall taxes owed as a travel nurse?

Allowed tax deductions as a traveling nurse can reduce the taxes owed on both state and federal income tax. Direct deductions can reduce your total income and the total taxes due. 

doola's website is for general information purposes only and doesn't provide official law or tax advice. For tax or legal advice we are happy to connect you to a professional in our network! Please see our terms and privacy policy. Thank you and please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions.

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