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Like a coin, there are two sides of your military paycheck. There’s what goes into your paycheck — basic pay, allowances and special and incentive pays — and there is what comes out. You can see your deductions and allotments listed on your LES. Here are some of the more common items you’ll see listed on your LES.
Military pay deductions: Taxes, SGLI, TSP and more
Everyone has deductions for taxes, including Social Security and Medicare. You probably have a federal tax deduction, and you may have a state tax deduction, depending on your state of legal residence.
The government will withhold your federal and state taxes based on the instructions you provided on your W-4, Employees Withholding Allowance Certificate. You can make updates to your withholding using myPay. Here are other deductions you may notice:
- Social Security deductions are 6.2% of your taxable military pays. Medicare taxes are 1.45% of your taxable military pays.
- The Servicemembers Group Life Insurance program provides low-cost life insurance to military members. Every service member is automatically signed up for the maximum amount of SGLI coverage but can elect a lower amount if so desired. In addition, members with SGLI coverage also have coverage under the SGLI Traumatic Injury Protection program.
- Every active-duty enlisted and warrant officer in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Space Force has an automatic, non-voluntary deduction of 50 cents per month designated to fund the Armed Forces Retirement Homes.
- The Family Servicemembers Group Life Insurance program offers low-cost life insurance to spouses and children of service members. Once registered in DEERS, spouses and eligible children members are automatically enrolled in FSGLI. If coverage is not wanted, the service member may reduce or decline coverage using the SGLI Online Enrollment System. You can access the SOES through the MilConnect portal.
- Thrift Savings Plan contributions are listed as a deduction on your LES. The contribution is forwarded to the TSP board at the beginning of the following month and credited to your TSP account once it has been processed by the TSP agency.
- Various types of government debts are listed on your LES. These may include debt from an overpayment, advance pay or advance Basic Allowance for Housing loan.
Military pay allotments
Meanwhile, any active-duty service member can set up allotments or payroll deductions from their paycheck to pay or repay certain expenses. There are two types of allotments: discretionary and nondiscretionary.
Discretionary allotments include Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program vision and dental premiums; commercial life insurance premiums; payments to dependents or other relatives deposits to banks, credit unions or investment companies; the payment of mortgage or rent and deposits into the Department of Defense Savings Deposit Program.
Nondiscretionary allotments include the purchase of savings bonds, repayments to military relief societies, charitable contributions to eligible organizations, court-ordered involuntary child and/or spousal support payments, government indebtedness, commercial debt, garnishments and delinquent Government Travel Card balances.
How do military pay allotments work? With an allotment, half of the allotted amount is deducted from your mid-month pay, and that amount remains in the system until the other half is deducted from your end-of-month pay. At that time, the entire amount is submitted to the designated recipient.
How to set up a military pay allotment
When you set up an allotment through myPay, you will see a “no later than” date listed before and after you set up the allotment. This lets you know whether the allotment will start this month or next month. It is important to watch your LES carefully until you see that an allotment has been successfully started. Do not assume that any bill is being paid by a new allotment until you have verified that the payment is received.
Limits on military pay allotments
You can have up to six discretionary allotments per month and any number of non-discretionary allotments, but you may not have more than 15 allotments per month.
You may not use allotments to purchase, lease or rent personal property. For example, you may not use an allotment for a car payment or rental on furniture or appliances.
Members of the National Guard and reserves may set up allotments when they are called to active duty, active duty for training or full-time training duty under orders specifying extended active duty for more than 180 days. Guards or reservists not on extended active duty may set up one allotment for insurance premiums, paid to a group life insurance program sponsored by their state Guard or the State Associations of the National Guard.
If you have questions about your pay and allowances, deductions and allotments or any other questions about your military paycheck, you can check with the personal financial educators at your installation’s family service center or contact Military OneSource for a free session with a financial counselor — in person, by phone or video.