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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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