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Pay and Allowances

There are various types of pay. Basic pay is received by all and is the main component of an individual's salary. The other pays, often referred to as special pays, are for specific qualifications or events. For example, there are special pays for aviators and parachutists; special pays are also paid for dangerous or hardship duties. Only basic pay is discussed on this website.

Allowances are the second most important element of military pay. Allowances are moneys provided for specific needs, such as food or housing. Monetary allowances are provided when the government does not provide for that specific need. For example, the quantity of government housing is not sufficient to house all military members and their families. Those who live in government housing do not receive full housing allowances. Those who do not live in government housing receive allowances to assist them in obtaining commercial housing.

The most common allowances are Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) and Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). A majority of the force receives both of these allowances and, in many cases, these allowances comprise a significant portion of the member's total pay.

Most allowances are not taxable, which is an additional imbedded benefit of military pay.

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Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness