In Episode 4 of The Truth About Travel Nursing Podcast, we cover 2 very important aspects of travel nursing pay packages. The first is “wage recharacterization” which is an IRS term dealing with tax-free reimbursements. We discuss the impact that this has on travel nursing pay packages. The second pertains to negotiating travel nursing overtime pay rates. More specifically, travel nursing “extra-time” pay rates.
The reason that we’re covering pay with the first few episodes of the podcast is because these issues will frequently come up in discussions of other topics. So knowing the terminology and understanding the issues at play is fundamental to our understanding of travel healthcare in general.
Wage Recharacterization and Travel Nursing Pay:
- Wage recharacterization is related to tax-free reimbursements like housing and M&IE. As you know, agencies offer tax-free reimbursements.
- The idea is that an employer isn’t supposed to recharacterize a wage as a tax-free reimbursement.
- There are several actions that the IRS has pointed out as “indicators” of wage recharacterization.
- First, offering really low wages. The wage should be in-line with what the professional can expect to make in that job. So $10 an hour isn’t okay for an RN. Agencies may not be malicious in doing this. There are 2 advantages. 1) sell you on higher net pay. 2) avoid costs.
- Second, offering a choice between wages OR a lower wage and higher tax-free money.
- Third, offering to have a reimbursement taxed when it is offered to everyone else tax-free. This is why many agencies refuse to pay all taxable.
- Fourth, different wages at the same facility with proportional differences in tax-free money.
- Fifth, treating the tax free reimbursements as hourly wages. This is why many agencies will not quote tax free pay in hourly amounts. They have a legit reason for not doing this. They are not being shady. This is also why you’ll find many travel contracts with penalties for missed shifts.
Travel Nursing Pay: Contracted Time vs. Overtime vs. Extra Time
- What is contracted time?
- What is overtime as it pertains to travel nursing pay?
- What is extra time?
Why is it important to differentiate contracted time from extra time?
Why is it important to differentiate overtime from extra time?
- Not all overtime is extra time and not all extra time is overtime.
Negotiating an extra-time rate as a travel nurse:
- Some agencies will and some won’t.
- What you should do when they don’t.
- What you should do when they do. (Be sure to clarify what is meant if they call it “overtime”)
Travel Nursing Agencies That Negotiate Good Overtime / Extra-Time Rates
If your agency pays travelers a rate that is higher than 1.5 times the taxable base rate for the extra-hours they work, please let us know and we’ll add you to the list.