Pay Package Breakdown

When getting ready to submit to a travel nursing contract, one thing we always ask to see is the pay package. Although we have a weekly "take home" we shoot for, seeing and understanding the pay package is important. Every pay package layout may look different from company to company, but understanding what it's saying is important.
Gross weekly pay is what you make prior to any deductions

Net weekly pay (take-home pay) is after taxes ↠this is what matters to us

The most common "pay package" will include an hourly rate (taxable), housing stipend (tax free) and meals/incidental stipend (tax free). As a travel nurse, you can typically manipulate your money. If you want a higher hourly rate, your recruiter can lower your stipends. If you want higher stipends (tax free money), the recruiter can lower your hourly rate. However, there are pros + cons to doing this. Ultimately, you don't want to make less than $18/hr as a nurse or else the IRS may think it's odd that a nurse is making so little and raise a red flag. Also, you don't want your stipends being over the legally allowed rate for the area and then risk having to pay the government back at tax time. Neither of these are good things.

Here's the break down:

$20/hr x 36 hours/week → $720/week (taxable)
$300/week for meals (tax free)
$700/week for housing (tax free)

$720 + $300 + $700 = $1,720 GROSS

The above pay package is a gross package because it is before state and federal taxes are removed. We have to pay state taxes for both Georgia (contract state) and West Virginia (tax home). Taxes vary state to state and are based off of what state you are working in and your permanent tax home. 

After taxes are taken out, $720/week becomes $542.40/week (state taxes, federal taxes, medicare, and additional require taxes). To calculate net, you then add your taxed hourly income ($542.40) + meals + housing.

$542.40 + $300 + $700 = $1,542.40 NET

It's a huge difference! Your weekly pay just dropped nearly $200/wk. Just be aware of recruiters promoting high gross packages. Always ask to see the net package or figure it out for yourself using ADP below.

Also, keep in mind that after you have your net weekly pay, your package can still be lower if you decide to take company healthcare, vision, and dental insurance. Your recruiter may also offer travel reimbursement and other bonuses, but these should not affect your weekly pay. It should just be an additional lump sum tax-free bonus.

Recommended resources:
1. GSA.gov (this allows you to calculate legally allowed stipends per location)
2. ADP.com (this is your net paycheck calculator and applies all required taxes for you)

Follow along with us while
We're Out N About
Lindsay + Chase

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