The Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is a tax-free allowance to help reduce the financial burden for military members moving to different areas. Military families, as you’re likely well aware, tend to move around a lot and the cost of living varies from region to region across the country. It’s no secret that the cost of renting or owning a home in Hawaii is far greater than one in Kansas. As a result, the US Military offers this allowance to make up the difference when and where government-provided housing is not available.
Types of BAH
There are several types of BAH to satisfy various housing situations that occur among military members. In general, the amount of BAH you receive depends on your location, pay grade, and whether or not you have dependents. Under most circumstances, you receive BAH for the location where you are assigned, not where you live. Additionally, you may be entitled to some BAH amounts if you are residing separately from your dependents. This occurs in situations involving unaccompanied overseas tours or having a dependent child that resides with a former spouse. The rules regarding these situations can become quite complex. Consult your Finance Office for more information regarding these complex situations. The following information comes directly from the Department of Defense’s website’s Compensation pages.
BAH With Dependents and BAH Without Dependents A member with permanent duty within the 50 United States, who is not furnished government housing, is eligible for Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), based on the member’s dependency status at the permanent duty ZIP Code. A member stationed overseas, including U.S. protectorates, who is not furnished government housing, is eligible for Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) based on the member’s dependency status. If a member is serving an UNACCOMPANIED overseas tour, the member is eligible for BAH at the “with dependents” rate, based on the dependent’s US residence ZIP Code, plus OHA at the “without dependents” rate, if the member is not furnished government housing overseas.
Partial BAH Members without dependents who are living in government quarters are entitled to a Partial BAH.
BAH Reserve Component/Transit (BAH RC/T) BAH RC/T is a non-locality housing allowance for members in particular circumstances, for example, reservists on active duty for 30 or fewer days. It also applies when a member is in transit from selected areas where no prior BAH rate exists (such as overseas). It does not vary by geographic location. BAH RC/T was set based on the old Basic Allowance for Quarters (BAQ), which was based on the national average for housing. BAH RC/T is published annually and is determined by increasing the previous year’s rates by the national average percentage growth of housing costs.
BAH-Differential (BAH-Diff) BAH-Diff is the housing allowance amount for a member who is assigned to single-type quarters and who is authorized a basic allowance for housing solely by reason of the member’s payment of child support. A member is not entitled to BAH-Diff if the monthly rate of that child support is less than the BAH-Diff. BAH-Diff is determined by the SECDEF and was equal to the difference between BAQ with dependents and BAQ without dependents in 1997 for the member’s grade. BAH-Diff is published annually and is determined by increasing the previous year’s rates by the percentage growth of military basic pay. For more information contact your finance office.
How BAH is Calculated
Several factors are taken into account when calculating BAH…marital status, rank, dependents and location. Married service members receive a greater allowance than a single service member. The higher the rank, the larger the BAH payment will be. Regardless of marital status, service members with dependents generally qualify for a larger BAH allowance than those without, however the number of dependent children a service member has does NOT influence their BAH payment. Location, as previously mentioned, is the most significant factor in the calculation of one’s BAH payment rate.It is important to remember that the payment is based on the region/location and not one’s actual rental agreement.
Payments are calculated monthly but issues two bi-weekly per month (i.e. the 1st and the 15th of the month). Payments are tax-free and are available to the service member for as long as you are actively serving in the military, not living in base housing or stationed on a ship. Members of the National Guard or Reserves who are called to active duty are eligible to receive payments for rental or mortgage payments at home (in your civilian life).
Determine your BAH Rate with the official BAH calculator tool from the DOD’s website.
At this time, the 2021 Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rates are budgeted by each department to increase on average 2.9 percent to 3.7 percent. The budgeted increase is an average for all areas and actual rates will continue to be set by the individual location based on the current local rental housing market survey process. The 2021 BAH increase will be effective on January 1, 2021, and service members will see the increase in their pay on January 15th, 2021.