Two of the biggest benefits that travel healthcare professionals can take advantage of are the housing stipend and per diems. These are paid to travelers as tax deferments or tax-free money. Housing Stipends are to cover your housing costs while on assignment and per diems are to cover incidentals, such as food, gas and other living expenses. The “General Services Administration” (GSA) oversees all that is involved in this area. When we determine what amounts our travelers will be paid in stipends and per diems, we use the GSA website to find approved amounts based on location.
Any traveler can go to www.gsa.gov to see what amounts are approved, simply clicking Per Diem Rates on the top left and adding which City and State they are going to. As with all tax-free reimbursements, travel healthcare professionals must qualify to receive the housing stipend. In order to qualify, you must be traveling for work away from your tax home. And you must maintain your status as a “temporary worker” in order to maintain your tax home.
The travel healthcare professional housing stipend and per diem amounts are big components of the travel pay package. One misconception is that these are paid by the Government. In fact the companies pay these to the employee as a benefit, not a requirement and it comes directly out of the rates that we contract with our facilities. But understanding exactly how they work can be difficult. Recruiters should be well versed on the rules and requirements, so please ask questions! We do also recommend that our travelers consult a tax advisor.