The Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) did not increase in 2019 resulting in the same rates as last year. This is the second time in three years that BAS did not increase and coming off only a .3% increase in 2018.
The 2019 BAS increase is effective January 1, 2019.
Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) is used to pay for food for Enlisted Soldiers and Officers. Beginning on January 1, 2002, all enlisted members were given full BAS, but pay for their meals (including those provided by the government) such as through a meal card management system.
BAS is calculated based on the current cost of food in the United States as recorded by the Department of Agriculture. Just as Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) correlates with the overall cost of living in a given zip code, BAS correlates with the cost of food in the given zip code. BAS, however, is not affected by the presence or absence of dependents, whereas BAH is a higher figure for service members with dependents.
BAS is not intended to cover all food-related expenses, but rather to aid in these expenses. The additional monthly stipend that service members can receive while overseas or when stationed in costly areas, known as Cost of Living Allowance (COLA), will not be affected by the proposed BAS rate.
Basic Allowance for Subsistence is considered non-taxable income. Meal deduction amounts, as well as other deductions and expenditures can be found on a leave and earning statement (LES), which is updated monthly.
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BAS II is the monthly rate that 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.