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Your Meals & Lodging Allowance Questions… Answered!

American Medical Staffing, Meals and Lodging Allowance

We get a lot of questions about the criteria you must meet in order to be compensated as a “Traveler,” i.e., receive a daily meal and lodging allowance (MLA).  So we thought we would put together a resource of Q&A’s


Q – Why do healthcare professionals want to become a traveler?

A – To better manage their career, to gain variety, to ensure more flexibility, to be their ‘own boss’, and to expand their skill sets. Being able to come and go and not deal with office politics and/or staff meetings is also a nice perk.


Q – What do healthcare professionals need to know about travel pay?

A – Travel pay can be truly amazing; people just need to know all the ins and outs for it to be most advantageous to them! Travelers generally get paid a taxable amount per hour worked and MLA which stands for Meals and Lodging Allowances. The MLA is non-taxable monies.


Q – What are some key qualifiers for someone that wants to become a traveler?

A – A traveler is someone who does not commute to and from work, has a permanent tax home, and is duplicating expenses while on assignment.


Q – Can travelers get MLA if they are simply over 50 miles from home?

A – No, there is no such thing as an IRS ‘miles’ rule. So, this is not a deciding factor. Bottom line, you must be commuting, duplicating expenses, and have a permanent tax home. At AMS, we air on the conservative side and require our healthcare professionals to be a minimum of 50 miles from home generally.


Q – What is a permanent tax home?

A – This is the location of your regular home or place of employment. For most people, this is the metropolitan or commutable area where they normally work. People would also incur living expenses while working on an assignment away from home.


Q – Why do other agencies tell potential hires that they only need to be 50 miles away from home to receive MLA?

A – Other agencies may not fully understand the tax rules. Talk to your tax advisor and use this helpful site to understand more about tax-free allowances so as to avoid getting audited by the IRS.  https://traveltax.wordpress.com/2021/01/08/tax-compliance-issues-during-pandemic-12-month-rule/


Q – Can a traveler stay in one general area for as long as desired?

A – A candidate must move locations after a year or look at a different pay option. This is an IRS rule. To be clear, a traveler can stay in the area; however, their new pay package needs to be all taxable income.


Q – If someone wants to go home and reset their MLA clock to continue in the same general area as before, how long does that take?

A – Generally, the IRS advises someone to be gone for a minimum of 7 months.


Q – If a traveler wants to travel for years and years, what is a realistic timeframe that they would need to return home annually to continue using the same permanent tax home?

A – The IRS says generally 30 days per year will suffice.


Q – If a healthcare professional has on-call written into their contract but is closer to home than 50 miles, are they eligible for MLA?

A – Yes, if the commute will take them longer to get to the facility than their on-call requirement, it is reasonable that they will have to duplicate expenses for the days that they are on-call.


If you have any additional questions that you would like answered on the subject of MLA, finding a travel assignment, (or anything else related to being a Healthcare professional) please send an email to marketing@americanmedicalstaffing.com and we will be happy to assist.