Tax Preparation for Travelers

Have Tax Home Questions?

The tax home consult was developed to meet the needs of travelers who want to make sure they are maintaining their tax home. Schedule a tax home consult to break down your specific situation!

Learn More

Want to Know How to Get Started?

Confused about traveler taxes? Don’t know where to start filing a Crossborder or International return? Look no further! We are here to help!

Learn More

Helpful Links

We’ve curated a selection of links to websites that may help you learn and get connected to the traveler community.

Learn More

Workbooks & Receipt Envelope

Workbook

Our 2021 Client Workbook will be available in just a couple of weeks, but in the meantime check out our 2020 Client Workbook below.  For us to do your taxes, the workbook needs to be completed and submitted to us (put N/A in any section(s) that do not apply to you). A wise traveler will download it on their first assignment and document each assignment as you go through the year. Trust us, it is much easier that way. In the process of filling it out, you will learn what records need to be kept.

TO USE THE WORKBOOK AS A PDF FILL:

  • Download Adobe Acrobat Reader DC program on your computer (it is a free download, no sign up/password required).
  • Save the workbook on your computer.
  • Open the workbook from the Adobe Acrobat Reader DC program (just installing it isn’t enough, open workbook from there).
  • Type and save workbook as often as you need to using Adobe Reader
  • If all else fails, you may print it out and fill out by hand.

(Mac users: Do not fill out workbook in Apple Preview mode as it will not save your work and will print it out blank.)

2020 Workbook

Receipt Envelope 

Our Receipt Envelope is helpful to help keep track with your receipts. In 2018 the standard deduction increased significantly, but there might be some deductions at the state level that you might want to deduct and keep up with in the following states: AL, AR, CA, HI, MN, NY, PA and MA (transit passes).

Receipt Envelope

Frequently Asked Questions

Generally, your tax home is “the entire city or general area where your main place of business or work is located, regardless of where you maintain your family home”.

If you are a traveler receiving tax free stipends, the answer is yes! You still need to keep your documentation for your tax home to justify your per diems! In an audit, no documentation could mean a tax liability, so keep those records!

These are maximum daily rates that can be given to an employee without an exchange of receipts. They cover lodging and meals for days an employee is away from home on the business of the employer (also called CONUS and OCONUS rates).

Sorry, it does not exist. Nope! Nada! No basis in IRS code.  The “50-mile rule” is an internal company guideline for their own policies or a facility rule for premium pay. They are not based on IRS guidelines.  Just because you sleep away from home, does not mean that an assignment 30 miles away qualifies you. It still has to be farther than a normal commute for a local. Maybe 90 min or more?

The IRS can be notoriously vague with their terms. As a result, we have done our best to develop a few concrete suggestions for travelers.

  1. Spend AROUND 30 days a year at home.
  2. Do not stay in any one area for more than 12 out of 24 months.
  3. Do not return to any one area a third year in a row.
  4. Remember that there are 50 states out there! Go somewhere else!

Understandably, being audited is a significant fear for travelers.  While it is true that a traveler has a higher chance of an audit, that is no reason to stay in a boring job!

If you have a solid tax home and keep good paperwork, you should not wind up with any financial damage. Just hassle. If you use TravelTax, there is no charge for audit defense for any return we prepare and file.

As a company, we suggest that the goal is to go to your tax home 30 days a year or 60 days every 2 years.  These 30 days do not have to be consecutive.  Otherwise you would be considered as having abandoned your tax home.

Keep your records for a minimum of 7 years!

One item many travelers fail to keep is contracts. Every traveler needs to keep copies of their travel contracts! In case of an audit, it is their only proof that they really had a temporary assignment and get to keep all of those per diems as tax-free. You may also send a copy of your travel contracts to us throughout the year or when you file your taxes with us, via our secure Client Portal for additional record keeping.

The website for the GSA rates is a site that allows you to look up all current rates in every city.  Occasionally you may run into a company that uses the High-Low Substantiation rates. These are GSA rates that are averaged into two categories. They are not published on the GSA site but issued as a PDF annually. If you Google the term, you will be able to get the current version.

States with no income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Wyoming.  Also, Washington, D.C. is tax-free for a non-resident and the US Virgin Islands only has a federal tax.

Highest income tax states: These are harder to evaluate, as what is taxed can flip-flop based on the different brackets and rates. But according to our own experience with travelers the top ten usually are: California, Montana, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, Utah, Oregon, Wisconsin, New York, North Carolina, and Hawaii. (No particular order)

Need Guidance as a New Traveler? TravCon is a great resource!

TravCon Video Website Open Video iFrame 2019 TravCon Highlights