Enlistment bonuses and enlistment bonuses are just one way the military gets people to join the military or re-enlist for additional service. However, these bonuses are not available to everyone. Bonuses are most commonly used as a tool to get people to apply for hard-to-fill positions, positions with high training needs, and positions with high-paying jobs in the civilian sector.
Let's take a look at the enrollment and re-enrollment bonuses, including how they cost, how they're paid, and what you can expect when you get one.
Get everything in writing - and keep it forever
A verbal promise is a contract. Except when it's not. The military is a huge organization and unless you have a enlistment bonus or a written enlistment bonus, this never happened. There are many stories of recruiters or retention workers promising sign-on rewards on the dotted line. But unless you see it in your contract, it's not official.
You must also keep a copy of your contract forever. Actually you shouldPreserve all important military records forever. Getting copies of it afterwards can be difficult and sometimes impossible.
This is especially important for military records such as contracts, training records, enlistments and recalls, promotions, achievements, and similar records. If you do not have copies of your records, you must contact your local military or personnel office (AFPC, Army HR Command, Navy BUPERS, etc.).
Some military jobs are eligible for an initial hiring bonus ofup to $40,000. Please note that this only applies to the most difficult to fill positions and awards are not available for all jobs. The level and availability of awards depends on your job role, job specialty and length of service (typically between 3 and 6 years).
As you can imagine, a 6 year hiring bonus usually pays more than a 3 year hiring bonus. If your work is eligible for an award, you will typically receive it after completing basic and initial technical training.
That last statement is very important - you can enter into a contract that guarantees you an enrollment bonus, but you don't actually earn that enrollment bonus until you complete initial training. so if youfail AIT or Tech School,You cannot earn this bonus.
Re-enlistment bonuses may be available to current service members when they re-enroll for an additional term, typically in increments of 3, 4, or 6 years. As already mentioned, there are not re-enrollment bonuses for all professional fields. Each branch of service can determine which specialty (Rating, MOS, or AFSC) is eligible for a re-enrollment bonus.
You may be eligible for a re-enrollment bonus if you are a uniformed service member who:
- at least 17 months of continuous active service (other than training) but no more than 20 years of active service;
- is qualified in a military skill identified by the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of Homeland Security as being critical to the Coast Guard when not on naval service; It is
- transfer or voluntarily renew the Member to a regular component of the relevant Service for a period of at least three years; or as a reserve component of the relevant service if the member serves as active watch and reserve (as defined in Section 101(d)(6) of Title 10).
- They currently do not receive any special remuneration for nuclear engineering training.
- You register again or voluntarily extend your service for at least three years.
- You are subscribing to a regular component of the relevant Service or continue to subscribe to a reservation component of the relevant Service.
How much bonus can you get?Re-enrollment bonuses cannot exceed the lesser of the following:
- The amount equal to 15 times the monthly value of the base salary due to the Member at the time of termination or termination; It is
- the number of years (or monthly fractions thereof) of the period for re-enrollment or extension of enrollment.
- The re-enrollment bonus cannot exceed $90,000.
Note on special loyalty rewards:Some majors are eligible to receive loyalty rewards in excess of $90,000. These are generally limited to those in the medical field, aviators, and those in select nuclear specialties. All of this is analyzed and described on a case-by-case basisUS-Code: 37 US C, Kapitel 5.
How are (re)enrollment bonuses paid?
This is the section everyone wants to read! When you qualify for a bonus you want to know when it will be paid out, right? Just.
Typically, if your bonus is less than $20,000, you can expect to receive it as a lump sum after your contract terms expire. This usually happens after completing the initial technical training.
Typically, if your bonus is more than $20,000, you can expect to receive half upfront (again after training is complete) and spread the rest out over annual installments.
The Navy pays its annual installments on October 1, which is the start of the fiscal year. The other branches of the service will pay the enrollment and re-enrollment premium on the anniversary of the receipt of the first installment.
To update:Recently, a reader wrote to us that the Navy now pays re-enlistment bonuses on your re-enlistment anniversary, just like the other branches do.
Why Annual Rates?The military wants to make sure they get their money's worth. You must continue to meet your Classification/MOS/AFSC standards to continue receiving your Anniversary Bonus payments. Failure to meet technical standards for your career area or failure to meet other standards may result in your ineligibility for bonus payments.
Example:If you have a $40,000 bonus, expect a lump sum of $20,000 after the training is complete (or when your move actually begins). The remaining $20,000 will be paid in 5 annual installments of $4,000 each on the anniversary of your re-enrolment.
Don't forget taxes!Also, taxes are automatically withheld from your bonus, usually at 25% or 28%. This is done automatically by the government and cannot be changed. If the withholding tax is too high for your tax bracket, you'll likely get a larger refund than usual the following year.
What about tax-free bonuses?
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 26, Section 1.112-1 coversduty-free combat zones.
In short, money you earn while serving in a Battle Zone is tax-free. This can include your re-enrollment bonus as long as you have signed the re-enrollment paperwork in the tax-free combat zone. This also covers your annual installment awards, even if they come in later, when you no longer serve in the tax-free combat zone.
However, if you signed the paperwork outside of the combat zone, you are not tax-exempt even if you receive the bonus or annual payment while you are in the combat zone.
See US Code - 26 CFR § 1.112-1 - Combat Zone Compensation of Members of the Armed Forces, Paragraph (b), Example 5 and Example 6 for more information.
Call-up bonuses and annual installments when signing papers in the combat zone
From the US Code - 26 CFR § 1.112-1, paragraph (b)
In July, a soldier volunteered while serving in a combat zone. After July, the member no longer served in the combat zone or was hospitalized for injuries sustained in the combat zone. In February of the following year, the member received a bonus for re-registering in July. The Redeployment Bonus may be excluded from Battle Zone Compensation earnings when earned outside of the Battle Zone, provided the Member has completed the necessary actions to qualify for the Reinforcement Bonus in a month that the Member served in the Battle Zone.
Call-up bonuses and annual payments if documents are signed outside the combat zone
From the US Code - 26 CFR § 1.112-1, paragraph (b)
In July, a soldier volunteered while serving outside a combat zone. In February of the following year, the military received a bonus for providing service in a combat zone due to the July enlistment. The re-enrollment bonus cannot be excluded from Combat Zone Compensation income, although received while serving in the Combat Zone, provided the Member has taken the necessary actions to qualify for the Reengineering Bonus in a month in which the Member has not had served in the combat zone or were hospitalized for injuries sustained while serving in a combat zone.
It is not uncommon for people about to be reinstated to apply for a foreign assignment and re-enroll in that location so that they can receive a tax-free bonus. This tax exemption has another important factor, which we will cover in the next section on the savings plan.
Contribution bonus to the savings plan
You are eligible to contribute some or all of your enrollment or re-enrollment bonus to the TSP from 1% to 100% provided your contributions do not exceed theTSP contribution limits mandated by the federal government($17,500 for 2014; $23,000 for ages 50 and older).
However, there are some exceptions.
The $19,500 contribution limit applies to taxable income only. If your bonus is tax-exempt, you can contribute up to the annual co-payment limit of $57,000 ($63,500 for over 50s). You can contribute up to $19,500 of your base salary and up to $37,500 of your bonus to reach the $57,000 threshold.
To take it a step further, tax-free TSP contributions are extremely valuable as the income has never been taxed. This gives you some advanced retirement planning options should you decide to go down this route (let's save that for another article).
Redeeming a bonus – refunding your bonus
This is the part that no one wants to read but needs to understand. When you receive a bonus you are on the hook for the life of your contract. You may owe the government a prorated refund if you fail to meet the terms of your contract. This is based on the amount you received and the time left on your lease.
Reasons for a refund of your bonus may include but are not limited to: voluntary separation, misconduct, failure to meet standards, failure to meet technical qualifications, cross-training in a new career area prior to the completion of contract terms and possible other reasons for this.
In general, you are not required to repay any part of your premium if you are unable to work due to illness, injury or any other reason beyond your control. This could include involuntary retraining in a new professional field. Be sure to speak to your finance and human resources office for verification.
Note on the reimbursement of the early separation allowance:In the case of a voluntary early separation, you will usually have to refund part of your bonus, but this may depend on the reason for the separation. Bonus refunds have sometimes been waived for term reduction (RIF) actions, but only in cases where the agency has specifically waived the requirement. In other words, don't take it for granted! Be sure to read the contract you signed when you received your bonus and the contract you sign to part ways ahead of time. The terms determine whether you have to cash out your bonus or not.
Meet with your finance and/or human resources department for more information:If it is determined that you owe Uncle Sam a refund, make sure you know how much you owe and how to pay it. Your finance or human resources office should be able to help you with this.
Which jobs offer a hiring or re-enrollment bonus?
Good question, sorry but I can't answer it because it's a moving target. Each branch of service determines which specialties are eligible for hiring or reinstatement bonuses, and these often change based on service needs. They usually change annually but can sometimes occur more frequently. Also, these lists are not always made public, so you usually have to go to a recruiter or retention agency to see the list.
If you areconsider joining the army, you will need to speak to a recruiter to find out if a bonus is available to you. If you are currently on duty, you can usually find a list on your service website or by contacting your staff or custodian.
An advice:Don't just do this for the money. A bonus is nice, but make sure that 1) you want to cash it out; They don't just join the military for a fat bonus and 2) want to serve in the job that offers the bonus. Nothing will prolong the next few years like a job you hate. First secure happiness, then money worries.
What if I never receive my bonus?
Several readers have left questions in the comments section or emailed me asking what to do if they never received their enrollment bonus or re-enrollment bonus. This is not an ordinary situation and each case will be unique. This is how I would deal with it:
Visit your HR, Human Resources (HR) or Retention office. These are the entities that do the paperwork for enrollment and re-enrollment awards. They should be able to give you an idea of whether or not you have met the bonus requirements and can help you make sure all your paperwork is in order. They can refer you to the tax office if you meet the requirements but the bonus has not yet been paid. Keep in mind that there may be a delay between earning your bonus and withdrawing it.
What if you already separated from the army and never received your bonus?This is a complicated situation that we have often been asked about. The best I can say is to check your contract and see if you should have received the bonus. Every contract is unique, so I can't offer much advice other than reviewing it thoroughly. From there, you should contact your branch's key service personnel (AFPC, Army Human Resources, Navy BUPERS, etc.). Have them review your contract and see what you should do from there.
You can also contact Defense Financial and Accounting Services (DFAS) as soon as you have your documents in hand. You must review your contract and all your payslips to confirm that 1) you should have gotten the bonus and 2) you never got it.
Is there a statute of limitations?I have no idea. The military is not afraid to go after people who owe them money. So it stands to reason that if you sign a contract, you can claim and get the money you are legally entitled to. Note that this process will likely take some time as all records must be verified before payment is authorized.
Don't have a copy of your contract?Again, you will need to contact your staff or Human Resources to try and get a copy of your contract. You may need to contact your guard or reserve unit if you have served in the reserve component rather than active duty. Each branch of service retains records for a specified period of time before they are sent to the National Archives. So, depending on how long you've been out of the military, it may take some time to follow up on your records. As with anything, you must be patient.
- Enrollment and re-enrollment bonuses are part of the U.S. Code: 37 US C, chapter 5,subchapter 1(§ 309– enrollment bonus), (§ 308– re-enrollment bonus)
- There are special sections of the United States Code that cover certain difficult subject areas, particularly those in the medical, aviation, nuclear engineering, and other professional fields. These are also listed in subchapter 1.
- Contact your recruiter or human resources office for more specific information on rewards you may receive.And as always in writing!
About the author of the post
Ryan Guina is the founder of Portfolio Militar. He is a writer, small business owner and entrepreneur. He served on active duty with the USAF for more than six years and is currently a member of the Illinois Air National Guard.
Ryan founded Portfolio Military in 2007 after retiring from active military service and has since written about finance, small business and military charity topics.
Featured on:Ryan's writing has appeared in the following publications: Forbes, Military.com, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, Reserve & National Guard Magazine (print and online editions), Military Influencer Magazine, Cash Money Life, The Military Guide, USAA , Go Banking Rates and many other publications.
See author's posts
How do sign up bonuses work? ›
A sign-on bonus is given after the candidate accepts the job offer. Some companies pay the sign-on bonus in one lump sum after the new employee signs the paperwork for a new job.Is there a catch to sign on bonuses? ›
It depends on how much the bonus is, what you'll get paid as your salary, and what other benefits you'll get if you sign on for this job. A sign-on bonus may not be worth taking if it means you get a cut in your annual salary. Sometimes you should negotiate a better overall salary instead of a sign-on bonus.What can I expect on my signing bonus? ›
So, in exchange for signing an employment contract with the company, a new employee may receive a lump-sum cash payment or stock options on top of their regular salary, bonus, vacation, and any other benefits noted in their agreement.How are bonuses usually paid out? ›
A year-end bonus is a form of compensation that employers pay to their employees in addition to their regular earnings. This type of bonus is often tied to performance metrics. Bonuses can be made in cash as lump-sum payments or in other forms, such as stocks or paid time off.Can you quit after a sign-on bonus? ›
If payment of the signing bonus on a schedule is not viable and it must be made upfront, employers should require employees to pay back some or all of their signing bonuses if they resign before a predetermined date, Caton said.How long does it take to get a sign-on bonus at a job? ›
Most of the time, a signing bonus is paid shortly after signing on with the company. That may be right after signing the formal paperwork, or along with the first paycheck. Sometimes, the signing bonus is paid after the employee has worked at the company for a set period, such as three or six months.What is a $500 sign-on bonus? ›
A sign-on bonus is a lump-sum payment given to a new hire after they sign an employment contract. Employers give sign-on bonuses to attract staff for hard-to-fill job openings, especially during tight job markets or skills shortages.How much is an average signing bonus? ›
The value of a signing bonus depends on the industry and the candidate. On average, it's usually in the thousands of dollars, such as $10,000 or even upwards of $50,000. If you're interested in a signing bonus, you may be able to negotiate for one before accepting a compensation package from a new company.How do I pay back my signing bonus? ›
If the signing bonus is repaid the same year as it was received, the employee need only pay the net amount. The employer can then receive the state and federal tax paid on that bonus back from the government.Do signing bonuses get taxed? ›
Bonuses can be subject to state income taxes as well. These tax rates vary by state. You may have to pay the 1.45% Medicare tax on your bonus plus the 6.2% Social Security tax on the amount of your wages, including your bonus, that is below the $147,000 Social Security cap (tax year 2022).
What is a typical Christmas bonus? ›
So, on average those receiving a holiday bonus can expect to receive around 5% of their salary in pay. Usually, employers who offer holiday bonuses give between $100 to $5,000, but considering a bonus is still a gift there is no standard amount that is awarded.What is the average Christmas bonus? ›
The range could be anywhere from $100 to $5,000 as it is technically considered a gift, so it can be whatever the company chooses to offer. The often-assumed rule is to expect 2% to 5% of your salary. An employer may also base the bonus amount by offering a varying percentage of the employee's salary.Is a bonus always money? ›
A reward bonus may be either a one-time offer or a periodic payment. While reward bonuses are usually given in cash, they sometimes take the form of stock compensation, gift cards, time off, holiday turkeys, or simple verbal expressions of appreciation.Do you lose signing bonus if you get fired? ›
When employees are terminated or resign before receiving their promised bonus, employers will often refuse to pay it. While companies argue that bonuses are at their discretion, courts have repeatedly sided with employees who say that bonuses can be equated to unpaid wages.What happens to my bonus when I leave a company? ›
An employee who resigns may be entitled to a bonus, depending on the terms of the bonus scheme. Typically an employer will provide that, in order to be eligible for payment of a bonus, the employee must remain in employment on the payment date and also not be under notice of termination.How much tax is deducted from joining bonus? ›
How much tax is deducted from signing bonus? While bonuses are subject to income taxes, they don't simply get added to your income and taxed at your top marginal tax rate. Instead, your bonus counts as supplemental income and is subject to federal withholding at a 22% flat rate.Are bonuses under $500 taxed? ›
Yes. Bonuses are taxed more than regular pay because they are considered supplemental income. They are always federally taxed, no matter which tax bracket you're in.What is the highest signing bonus? ›
|1||Dak Prescott Quarterback||$66,000,000|
|2||Matthew Stafford Quarterback||$60,000,000|
|3||Russell Wilson Quarterback||$50,000,000|
|4||Matt Ryan Quarterback||$46,500,000|
A sign-on bonus, also called a hiring bonus or signing bonus, is an incentive that employers can give new hires. Employers can use sign-on bonuses to attract and hire employees. Generally, signing bonuses are a one-time lump sum payment. However, some employers may spread the payment out over time.Is it better to get a raise or a bonus? ›
Raises are a permanent increase in payroll expenses; bonuses are a variable cost and therefore give business owners greater financial flexibility when business is down. Bonuses can be tied to sales or production volumes to incentivize employees and help companies boost their profits during peak times.
Does signing bonus show up on w2? ›
When your employer provides you with a bonus, they will report it on your W-2 in box 1—but it's combined with your normal wages or salary. In the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service, your bonus is no different than the salary you receive.Why is my signing bonus taxed 40 %? ›
Bonuses are taxed heavily because of what's called "supplemental income." Although all of your earned dollars are equal at tax time, when bonuses are issued, they're considered supplemental income by the IRS and held to a higher withholding rate. It's probably that withholding you're noticing on a shrunken bonus check.How much is a 15000 bonus taxed? ›
As with any income, you have to pay state and federal taxes on your bonuses. But since they're considered supplemental wages by the IRS, bonuses are subject to a flat 22% withholding rate, no matter which tax bracket you're in.Do bonuses count as income for Social Security? ›
Wages are the same for SSI purposes as for the social security retirement program's earnings test. ( See § 404.429(c) of this chapter.) Wages include salaries, commissions, bonuses, severance pay, and any other special payments received because of your employment.Are bonuses taxed twice? ›
They are not taxed higher, but they do have a higher rate of income tax withheld. There are various reasons why more is withheld on bonuses. The main reason is because it is a requirement of the government guidelines on withholding.Do Christmas bonuses get taxed? ›
Because holiday bonuses are considered compensation, they are taxed. However, bonuses are taxed at a different rate than an employee's salary on both the state and federal levels, according to TurboTax.Do all workers get a Christmas Bonus? ›
A Christmas bonus is a bonus paid to employees at Christmas time. While employees may expect a Christmas bonus, organizations may not always have to provide them. There are some circumstances under which a Christmas bonus must be paid.How should employees get a Christmas Bonus? ›
They usually range from 5-10% of your year's earnings. For example, if your salary is $50,000 a year, your holiday bonus can vary from $2,500 to $5,000. You can usually determine your bonus percentage by checking your employment contract or asking a supervisor.How much is Walmart bonus for Christmas? ›
The bonus payout will appear on eligible associates' regular paychecks on Dec. 8, 2022. See below for a full list of eligibility requirements. 2022 holiday bonus payout for part-time associates is a flat rate of $20.Is $50 a good Christmas Bonus? ›
Holiday Bonus Suggestions: Providing a holiday tip of $20 to $50 is typically recommended. A holiday or Christmas bonus goes a long way in showing gratitude, especially since these gestures are given during a time of year that's associated with increased spending.
What is a good bonus? ›
What is a Good Bonus Percentage? A good bonus percentage for an office position is 10-20% of the base salary. Some Manager and Executive positions may offer a higher cash bonus, however this is less common.What are the disadvantages of bonus? ›
The Disadvantages of Giving Bonuses
Employees may develop false expectations from bonuses. Employees may demand bonus payments even if a small business doesn't have the funds to do so. And if it does provide generous payouts one year, it may suffer losses the following year.
Year-end bonuses are typically paid within the first few months of the new year. Annual bonuses may be paid at the same time each year, although the company typically sets the timeline for when they will be paid to employees.How do I calculate my bonus? ›
How to Calculate Bonuses for Employees. To calulate a bonus based on your employee's salary, just multiply the employee's salary by your bonus percentage. For example, a monthly salary of $3,000 with a 10% bonus would be $300.Are bonuses paid through payroll? ›
It is a common practice for employers to issue bonuses to motivate or reward employees. A bonus is basically extra money in excess of what an employee normally receives. When employers decide to award bonus pay, they must decide whether to add it to payroll checks or issue the extra compensation as a separate payment.Are bonuses usually net or gross? ›
What is gross pay? Basically, gross pay refers to all the money your employer pays you before any deductions are taken out. It includes all overtime, bonuses, and reimbursements from your employer, and it does not account for such deductions as taxes, insurance, and retirement contributions.Are bonuses based on gross or net income? ›
Income from bonuses, overtime, and commissions shall be included in the calculation of gross income unless the person's employer documents that such earnings will not continue.Which month are bonuses paid? ›
As per Payment of Bonus Act'1965 - Bonus is paid after completion of Financial Year within 8 Months, as it is the part of Companies Profit or at the time of F & F whichever is earlier to the employee who has served for more than 30 Days in a year. It means Bonus is paid for the previous year.Who is eligible for bonus? ›
Eligibility for bonus.
—Every employee shall be entitled to be paid by his employer in an accounting year, bonus, in accordance with the provisions of this Act, provided he has worked in the establishment for not less than thirty working days in that year.
The bonus you will get is considered your earnings so you will be taxed in the same way as your income. You will pay income tax and National insurance on your bonus in addition to that any student loans will also be deducted.
How much taxes are taken out of a $1000 bonus? ›
1. The Percentage Method (or flat-rate method). Under this approach, your employer withholds 22% of your bonus for federal income tax purposes. For example, let's say you received a $1,000 bonus in your next paycheck.How much would a $1,000 bonus be taxed? ›
The flat rate method, also known as the flat percentage method, requires you to withhold income tax at a flat 22 percent rate. For example, say you're giving your employee a $1,000 bonus. You would withhold $220 from their bonus ($1,000 x 22 percent) plus the regular withholdings from their normal paycheck.Do bonuses show up on w2? ›
When your employer provides you with a bonus, they will report it on your W-2 in box 1—but it's combined with your normal wages or salary. In the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service, your bonus is no different than the salary you receive.Why is my bonus taxed so high? ›
Why are bonuses are taxed so high? Bonuses are taxed heavily because of what's called "supplemental income." Although all of your earned dollars are equal at tax time, when bonuses are issued, they're considered supplemental income by the IRS and held to a higher withholding rate.Can bonus be paid in cash? ›
All amounts payable to the employee as bonus under the provisions of the Act should be paid in cash. Which means that the employer cannot guise bonus as perquisites or allowances.Is joining bonus paid in first month? ›
Joining Bonus (or Sign-on bonus) is the bonus that the company pays you when you join the company. It is generally around 10% of your CTC. Understand that it will not be paid every year. It is mostly used to stuff the CTC to show that the package is very good.What happens if I quit before bonus is paid? ›
When employees are terminated or resign before receiving their promised bonus, employers will often refuse to pay it. While companies argue that bonuses are at their discretion, courts have repeatedly sided with employees who say that bonuses can be equated to unpaid wages.