Active duty military personnel who are receiving basic allowance for housing (BAH) are in for a rude awakening when child support and/or spousal support is calculated and are surprised as to how high the support can be. The reason is twofold.
First, when the court calculates child or spousal support, it must determine if the income is taxable or nontaxable. The court considers BAH and Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS), non-taxable income. Because this is “tax-free” income, the income will be higher for support calculations which generally means higher child and spousal support.
Second, even if the BAH is put in and taken out because the family is living in base housing, the court will still calculate the amount as nontaxable income. This is always a shocker to the military personnel because the money is put into the Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) but is taken right out and the common response is “I never see the money”. The court does not care and still includes it as nontaxable income. The reason is because although the money is being taken out, the person is still receiving the benefit of the housing and is therefore charged that amount. If the parties have separated and the military personnel’s spouse is living in base housing, the military person is still charged with the income but the amount can be deducted from whatever support is ordered.
In sum, military personnel should be aware of the income issues associated with BAH and BAS and should be prepared for support that can be ordered as a result of receiving BAH and BAS.
DISCLAIMER: The above article is intended for information and educational use only. It is not intended to be legal advice in any way. If legal advice is needed, an attorney should be consulted with.