The 2020 Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) rate is currently proposed at 2.4% according to all budget materials submitted by the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy. However, the actual rate varies significantly each year. Congress and the president still must approve and pass the BAS increase into law. The BAS increase has seen little to no increase in the past four years as the cost of food has not increased, the measurement used to determine an increase.
The 2020 BAS rate is effective January 1, 2020.
Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) is a pay allowance for Enlisted Soldiers and Officers that can offset the cost of food purchases. As of January 1, 2002, all enlisted members receive full BAS. However, they must pay for their own meals (including government-provided meals) and may use BAS funds via a meal card management system.
The BAS rate is determined by the current cost of food in the United States as reported by the Department of Agriculture. BAS correlates with the overall cost of food in a given zip code, just as Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is determined by the cost of living in a particular zip code. BAS, however, is not provided for family members so the rate of allowance does not change based on the number of dependents, whereas BAH rates vary for service members with dependents.
BAS is meant to offset the cost of food-related expenses and is not intended to cover all food purchases. Service members can receive an additional monthly stipend while serving overseas or when stationed in costly areas, known as Cost of Living Allowance (COLA). COLA is not affected by the proposed BAS rate.
Basic Allowance for Subsistence is considered non-taxable income. Meal deduction amounts can be found with other deductions and expenditures on a leave and earning statement (LES), which is updated monthly.
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BAS II is the monthly rate payable to enlisted members at a permanent station and assigned to single (unaccompanied) Government quarters, without adequate food storage or preparation facilities, and where a Government mess is unavailable, and the Government cannot otherwise provide meals. The BAS II rate is twice the rate of standard enlisted BAS and must be authorized by the Secretary of the Military Department concerned.