BAS Rates: Basic Allowance for Subsistence
BAS is one of the regular pays a service member will receive. Unlike BAH rates (Basic Allowance for Housing) or their basic pay, there can be a few restrictions on when you will receive BAS. Here is what you need to know about BAS.
What is BAS?
BAS stands for Basic Allowance for Subsistence. This pay is meant to offset the costs for a service member’s meals. It is important to remember that BAS is not meant to offset the costs of the entire family.
Who receives BAS?
As of January 1, 2002, all enlisted members of the military will receive full BAS but pay for their meals. Even meals that the government provides. This means that if you deploy or go to training, your BAS can be prorated, taking out the cost of meals that the military provides for you.
Often what happens is that a service member and their family get used to that BAS each month, they deploy, and then the military paycheck is down from what they think it should be. If you don’t know how BAS works, it can be easy to freak out over this.
BAS starts after basic training and your initial training period is over. However, single soldiers, living in the barracks, receive meal cards and will not receive BAS as the military is already providing for their meals.
What are the 2021 BAS rates?
BAS is based on the price of food. Each year it can be adjusted and is based on the increase of the price of food that is measured by the USDA food cost index.
The 2021 BAS pay rates are $266.18 for officers and $386.50 per month for enlisted.
What else do I need to know about BAS?
Remember that BAS is supposed to be just for the service member and you are not supposed to be receiving all of it if you are receiving meals through the military. However, the reality is, sometimes the BAS is taken out, and sometimes it isn’t.
The best thing to do is assume that it will be taken out. Don’t depend on BAS every month when you are gone. When you are home, put the BAS in your grocery budget and when you leave, make sure your family cuts back a bit since you will not be eating meals in your home for the time you are away. That way, you are using the money for what it is intended for, and if it is lowered or taken away during a deployment or training period, your family will not be putting themselves in trouble when that money is no longer there.
Remember that BAS, as well as BAH, is tax-exempt and does not have to be reported for tax purposes. If you are applying for a specific program, make sure to find out if they want you to include BAS in your income or not. This will depend on who is asking and paying for the program you are applying for.
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About the author
Julie Provost is a freelance writer, blogger, and owner of Soldier's Wife, Crazy Life, a support blog for military spouses. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.