The 2021 Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) rates have been announced.
BAS is a non-taxable monetary allowance paid to all members of the military once they have left their basic military training, except for certain situations where the military is providing meals. It is a legacy from a time when military members were provided with all their meals.
This change is effective on 1 January 2021, so the new rates will be reflected in the 15 January 2021 paychecks.
The 2021 Basic Allowance for Subsistence Rates
The 2021 BAS rates are:
For enlisted service members $386.50, up $13.79 from $372.71 in 2020
for officers, 266.18, up $9.50 from $256.68 in 2020.
There’s also this thing called BAS II, which “may be payable to enlisted members on duty at a permanent station and assigned to single (unaccompanied) Government quarters, which do not have adequate food storage or preparation facilities, and where a Government mess is not available, and the Government cannot otherwise make meals available. The BAS II rate is twice the rate of standard enlisted BAS and must be authorized the Secretary of the Military Department concerned.
The 2020 BAS II rate is $773.00.
Frequently Asked Questions About Basic Allowance for Subsistence BAS
Why are officer and enlisted rates different?
I have done a ton of research on this and I have never found an answer. The answers I have found don’t make a lot of sense. If you have an actual answer, and not just “well because officers make more,” I’d love to hear it.
When does BAS get taken away?
In theory, BAS is taken away whenever the military is providing all your meals. In reality, sometimes the military provides all your meals and they take away BAS, and sometimes they provide all your meals and they don’t take away BAS. Different situations are handled differently, and there are a ton of variables. It’s better to assume that BAS won’t be paid any time the service member is being provided any sort of meals, even MREs. (Those things are expensive.)
BAS isn’t enough to feed my family!
BAS is not designed to feed your family, it is designed to offset the cost of feeding the service member.
This is the largest BAS increase in a while, driven by higher food costs in 2020. When making your 2021 spending plans, be sure you account for BAS in a way that can flex if the service member is training or deployed and is being provided their meals.
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