How Long Can a Travel Nurse Stay in One Place?

Travel nursing is like embarking on a series of mini-adventures, each with its own set of landscapes, teams, and experiences. However, a common question among travel nurses is, “How long can I stay in one location?” This question is crucial, not just for planning purposes but also due to its implications for taxes. Let’s delve into the details to provide a comprehensive answer.

Understanding the Tax Home Concept

First and foremost, it’s important to understand the concept of a “tax home” as defined by the IRS. A tax home is the city or general vicinity where your primary place of business or work is located, regardless of where you maintain your family home. For travel nurses, maintaining a tax home is essential to receive tax-free stipends, which include housing, meals, and incidentals.


The 13-Week Standard and Beyond

Traditionally, travel nursing assignments last for 13 weeks. This duration is not arbitrary; it aligns closely with the IRS guideline that employment in one location should not exceed one year to maintain your status as a “temporary” worker, which is crucial for retaining your tax home.

However, staying in one location for longer than 13 weeks doesn’t automatically disqualify you from maintaining your tax home status. The key is the expectation of the assignment’s duration at the time it starts. If an assignment is initially contracted for less than one year, it is considered temporary, and thus, tax-exempt benefits can still apply. This means that if your assignment is extended beyond 13 weeks but does not exceed one year, you can often still receive your stipends without tax implications.

Extending Beyond One Year

If you extend your stay in one location beyond one year, the IRS considers your work in that location to be indefinite rather than temporary. This changes your tax home to your assignment’s location, making any stipends or reimbursements for expenses in that area taxable income.

State Taxes and Reciprocity Agreements

Beyond federal tax implications, travel nurses must also consider state taxes, which vary widely. Some states have reciprocity agreements, allowing residents of one state to work in another without filing non-resident tax returns. However, staying in a non-reciprocal state for an extended period could require you to file as a resident, subjecting your income to state taxes.

Best Practices for Travel Nurses

Maintain a Permanent Tax Home: Keep a permanent residence where you pay rent or mortgage and return regularly between assignments.

Keep Track of Assignments: Document the start and end dates of all assignments, extensions, and any income received, including stipends.

Understand State Tax Laws: Familiarize yourself with the tax laws of your assignment states, especially if considering extensions.

Consult a Tax Professional: Tax laws can be complex, especially for travel nurses. Consulting with a tax professional who understands the nuances of travel nursing can be invaluable.

In summary, while the typical travel nurse assignment is 13 weeks, you can stay in one location for up to one year without changing your tax home status, as long as the assignment is considered temporary at the outset. It’s essential to keep meticulous records and understand the tax implications, both federally and at the state level. By following best practices and possibly consulting with a tax professional, travel nurses can navigate these rules successfully, enjoying the freedom and flexibility that come with the territory.

Whether you’re a seasoned travel nurse seeking your next assignment or you’re ready to dive into the dynamic world of travel nursing for the first time, our comprehensive job search portal is your gateway to exciting positions across the country. Connect with us today and take the first step toward fulfilling your next travel nursing adventure!

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