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Are Military Benefits Taxable?

Are military benefits taxable?

Military service members receive various benefits and compensation packages from the government to support them and their families. That said, one common question that often arises is whether these military benefits are taxable. The answer isn’t always straightforward, as it depends on the specific benefit and various other factors. In this article, we will explore the tax implications of military benefits and help service members better understand their financial situation. 

Taxable Military Income 

First, it’s important to clarify that not all military benefits are taxable. There are specific benefits and allowances provided to service members that are considered taxable income. Some examples include: 

  1. Basic Pay: Service members‘ basic salary is considered taxable income, just like any other job’s wages. 
  2. Special Pay: Some specialized pay, such as foreign duty pay, is also considered taxable income.  
  3. Bonuses: Enlistment and re-enlistment bonuses, accrued leave, and other similar payments are generally taxable. 
  4. Separation Pay: In cases where service members are involuntarily separated from the military, certain separation pay may be taxable. 

Non-Taxable Military Benefits 

Fortunately, many military benefits are not subject to federal income tax. These non-taxable benefits help support service members and their families, including: 

  1. Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH): BAH is intended to help service members cover housing costs and is generally not considered taxable income. 
  2. Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS): BAS assists with food expenses and is also not taxable. 
  3. Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA): OHA assists military members in covering the costs of overseas housing and is not taxable. 
  4. Military Disability Benefits: Disability benefits received as a result of military service are generally not subject to federal income tax. 
  5. Veterans’ Benefits: Benefits provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), such as disability compensation, pension, and education assistance, are generally non-taxable. 
  6. Survivor Benefits: Survivor benefits, including Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), are typically not taxable. 
  7. Combat Pay: Combat pay is a special type of compensation provided to U.S. military service members who are deployed to specific designated combat zones or who are exposed to imminent danger as a result of their military service. It is explicitly exempt from federal income tax. 

State Tax Considerations 

While many military benefits are exempt from federal income tax, the tax treatment of these benefits can vary at the state level. Some states may exempt all military pay and benefits from state income tax, while others may tax a portion of it. Service members should check their state’s tax laws to understand how their military benefits are treated. 

Reporting Military Income 

Service members should ensure they accurately report their taxable military income on their federal income tax returns. Failing to report taxable income can result in penalties and interest charges. It’s advisable to consult with a tax professional who specializes in military tax matters for assistance in preparing tax returns. 


In summary, not all military benefits are taxable. While some components of military compensation, such as basic pay and certain bonuses, are subject to federal income tax, many other benefits, including housing allowances, subsistence allowances, and disability benefits, are typically non-taxable. Additionally, state tax laws can further impact the tax treatment of military income. It is essential for service members to be aware of these tax considerations and, when in doubt, seek guidance from tax professionals who can provide accurate and up-to-date information on their tax obligations. By understanding the tax implications of their military benefits, service members can make informed financial decisions and ensure compliance with tax laws. Optima Tax Relief is the nation’s leading tax resolution firm with over $1 billion in resolved tax liabilities. 

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