Department of Defense


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There are over 30K mil couples (one mil member married to another) on active duty in the USAF. Both spouses are receiving untaxed Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). One of the member’s is receiving BAH at the “single” rate (i.e. they have a spouse and/or child) rate, while the other is also receiving BAH at the “single” rate. This is obviously necessary, if they are stationed in separate locations. However, if they are stationed at the same base they should only be receiving one BAH (at the “with dependant” rate). What most couples are doing is using this “oversight” to their advantage and pocketing a lot of money per month just because both are active duty members. This is not the intention of BAH. BAH is a tax-free allowance provided to mil members to be able to live off of the local housing economy, not to allow them to do so and then pocket a whole lot extra. Now let’s do some quick math to see just how much money is being wasted:

The national avg BAH for an E-5 with dependents (a relatively good figure to use, as it's what the VA uses for BAH determination for the post 9/11 GI Bill payment to members telecommuting) = $1,347. Let's say then that the national average for an E-5 “single” rate is ~$1000. Let's also say for easy math that just 50% of these mil to mil couples are actually stationed together (it is much higher actually, as the army, for example, is above 75%) So, 30,000 members divided by 50% is 15,000 members. That's 15,000 married active duty couples that are stationed together. Half of those 15,000 (i.e. one of the two spouses) is receiving single member BAH. So, 7,500 (half the 15,000) multiplied by $1,000 comes out to $7.5M per month! Multiplied further by 12 months comes to $90M per year. If an average tour is about 3 years, that’s $270M per tour that is being wasted. And that is just in the Air Force! If this was multiplied across the branches we could see a savings of up to $360M per year, or $1.08B per 3 year tour, maybe more!

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Idea No. 9366