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How To Understand Your Army Paycheck (LES)

The LES (Leave Earnings Statement) is your pay stub. You can receive the paper stub or view it online.

When Will I Get Paid?

Paychecks are issued twice a month on the 15th and the 1st.

To me, the way the system works is backward. The LES has no details on the 15th of the month, just the amount paid. On the last day of the month, the LES will have the breakdown of all pay.

If your paycheck is the same every month, this is no problem. However, when in training, arriving at a new post, or deployed, you will rarely get two paychecks that are the same.

Sometimes, the amounts vary greatly. You will have no idea what you are getting paid for until the end of the month.

What if my paycheck is different than expected?

One word of advice: If your paycheck suddenly becomes larger, do not spend the money until you know that it is yours to spend.

The Army quickly debits your account when they realize they have made a mistake. They will debit your account to get their money back much quicker than they will credit it with the money they owe you.

The Sections of the LES

ID Row

This section is self-explanatory. It includes:

  • Soldier’s Name
  • SS#
  • Grade (Rank)
  • Pay Date
  • Years of Service
  • ETS (date your current enlistment will end)
  • Branch
  • ADSN/DSSN (number used to identify the finance office)
  • Period Covered (period being paid for)

Entitlements

This section details your pay, including any deductions and allotments.

Base pay: All base pay is taxable and depends on your rank and service time. This pay is generally not taxable if you are deployed (certain circumstances apply).

BAS: Basic allowance for subsistence (food). This is also non-taxable.

BAH: Housing allowance (non-taxable). The amount is determined based on dependents and the zip code. Note that the BAH remains the same whether you are married with no kids or ten kids.

Special pay: This could be parachute pay, diving pay, etc. Generally, this pay results from attending a special training course.

Other entitlements can include hardship pay (common for those stationed in Korea), hazardous duty and imminent danger pay (extra pay when deployed to potentially dangerous locations), and family separation allowance (if you are away from your spouse and/or children for 30 days or more).

Deductions

This section includes all deductions from your pay, including all federal and state taxes.

It can also include fees for SGLI and dependent dental coverage.

Your mid-month pay will show as a deduction on the last pay stub.

Allotments

This column is for any items being deducted, such as money going to a checking/savings account, insurance payments, bonds, etc.

Summary

  • + Amt Fwd: The amount of any unpaid pay or allowances from the prior LES
  • + Tot Ent: The total of all entitlements and allowances
  • – Tot Ded: The total of all deductions
  • – Tot Allt: The total of all allotments
  • = Net Amt: The net pay amount
  • – Cr Fwd: All unpaid pay or allowances due to appear on the next LES
  • = EOM Pay: The amount to be paid at the end of the month
  • DIEMS: Date initially entered military service
  • RETPLAN: Type of retirement plan

Leave

  • BF Bal: Brought forward balance
  • Ernd: The amount of leave earned (in days)
  • Used: The amount of leave used (in days)
  • Cr Bal: The amount of leave available (in days)
  • ETS Bal: The projected leave balance to the member’s ETS
  • Lv Lost: The number of leave days lost
  • Lv Paid: The number of leave days paid to date
  • Use/Lose: The projected number of days that will be lost if not taken

The next three sections are for taxes: Fed Taxes, FICA Taxes, and State Taxes. These sections will show the tax by period, tax paid YTD, and the number of exemptions claimed.

Pay Data

  • BAQ Type: The type of basic allowance being paid (with dependents or without dependents)
  • BAQ Depn: The type of dependent (i.e. “spouse”)
  • VHA Zip: The zip code used to compute BAH (or BAQ)
  • Rent Amt: The amount of rent paid (if applicable)
  • Share: The number of people the soldier shares housing costs with
  • Stat: VHA status – accompanied or unaccompanied
  • JFTR: Location of dependents for COLA
  • BAS Type: The type of rations the soldier is receiving
  • Charity Type: The amount of charitable contributions
  • TPC: This field is not used for active duty
  • PACIDN: The active unit identification code (UIC)

Thrift Savings Plan

  • Base Pay Rate: The amount elected for TSP
  • Base Pay Current: This is reserved for future use
  • Special Pay Rate: The percentage of special pay elected for TSP
  • Special Pay Current: This is reserved for future use
  • Incentive Pay Rate: The percentage of incentive pay elected for TSP
  • Incentive Pay Current: This is reserved for future use
  • Bonus Pay Rate: The percentage of bonus pay elected for TSP
  • Bonus Pay Current: This is reserved for future use
  • TSP YTD Deductions: The total deductions year to date for TSP
  • Deferred: The total amount deferred for tax purposes
  • Exempt: The total amount exempt for tax purposes

Remarks

  • YTD Entitle: The total of all entitlements in the calendar year
  • YTD Deduct: The total of all deductions in the calendar year

General notices are at the bottom if there are any.

LES Frequently Asked Questions

What does advanced debt mean?

Advanced debt is what the military has overpaid you. This amount will be taken back out of your account at some point.

Is my state tax based on my duty station?

State taxes are generally based on your home of record (the state you were a resident of when you joined) unless you have established residency in another state. Being stationed in another state does not establish residency in that state.

Some states don’t charge tax to those serving, regardless of where you are stationed. Some don’t charge tax if you are stationed out of state but do charge tax if you are stationed within the state. Some also have exemptions for the spouse’s income.

Always contact your tax advisor about any questions regarding state taxes.

author avatar
Stacey Abler
Stacey's husband joined the Army in 2003 and was medically retired after four deployments. She enjoys sharing her experiences and expertise around Army life while continuing to support Army spouses and families in their military journey.

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5 Comments

  1. Capitalize Soldier and spell it right. Not all Soldiers are males so maybe loose the “he’s” and “his”. As jacked up as I feel towards this page it is surprisingly accurate LES information but figures when it comes to woman and money.

    1. As far as “he’s” and “his”, my husband was in special ops (an all male unit). I was never even around female soldiers until a great deal of time after I wrote this article. I have addressed the reason I use his/him/he, etc on this site multiple times and there is no disrespect intended towards females.

      And what exactly does your last sentence mean? Jacked up because I provide over 600 pages of free information for family members? If you don’t like the site, then don’t visit it. Simple as that.

    2. Somebody has been infected with the Feminazi/Political Correctness virus. It is unfortunate that no cure has been found yet. Sad face 🙁

      Many military publications state that references to the male gender are inclusive of the female gender as well. It’s not a male superiority deal, “we’ll only publish the male reference because male superior being, grr grunt ugh.” To include the he/she (and variants) references in a large publication would consume more resources, to do so simply for the sake of appeasing one’s butthurtness of not seeing “her” spelled out when it is clearly implied, would be impractical as it would generate unnecessary expenses. Take a dose of reality, it’s the only plausible cure for the F/PC virus, we can only hope it helps.

      Oh, and to you inner grammar nazi; she’s not a major publicist, she’s trying to be a source of help and assistance. I think we can somehow manage to find a scrap of decency in our hearts to forgive the lack of a capital “S”…

      Although, in counter argument to your F/PC, you then turn around and attack her, it figures that a military spouse would know so much about the “S”oldier’s paycheck! You are truly one asinine…ass! “…figures when it comes to woman and money.” (By the way, you failed being a grammar nazi, you left out the “a” before “woman”, oops! Or did you mean “women”?) It’s not just the female spouses who are guilty of plundering their “S”oldier’s paychecks, male spouses have been just as guilty. Moreso, not every spouse is a paycheck pirate, way to generalize. I’m sure you feel mighty about it.

      BLUF: You’re an ass. Shut up. Learn some manners and respect. Then, and only then, feel free to come back and speak with some respect. I certainly hope you do not wear a uniform, you would be a horrendous representative of the military, Mr. Greg.

  2. LOL! “If his paycheck suddenly becomes larger, do not spend the money until you know that it is definitely yours to spend.”

  3. So on my LES it says that my NET AMT is 2,251.75 and in CR FWD it says 2,251.75 so do I get paid thst money the next pay period or not???

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