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Foreign Tax Credit


The Foreign Tax Credit is a non-refundable tax credit for income taxes paid to a foreign government as a result of foreign income tax withholdings. It is provided by many nations to mitigate the potential for double taxation. This credit is mainly available to individuals and businesses resident in the country providing the credit, on foreign income tax paid on income earned abroad.


The phonetics of the keyword “Foreign Tax Credit” would be: Foreign: /ˈfɔrɪn/ Tax: /tæks/ Credit: /ˈkrɛdɪt/

Key Takeaways

  1. Prevents Double Taxation: The Foreign Tax Credit allows U.S. taxpayers to avoid or minimize double taxation on their foreign-sourced income. This is achieved by deducting the taxes paid to foreign governments from their U.S. tax liabilities.
  2. Applicability: It is applicable to both individuals and businesses. Any U.S. taxpayer who pays tax to a foreign country on their foreign-sourced income can claim this credit. This is especially beneficial for multinational corporations and expatriates living overseas.
  3. Limited to U.S. Tax Liability on Foreign Income: The Foreign Tax Credit cannot be more than your actual share of U.S. tax liability that the foreign income represents. To calculate this, you need to compare your overall tax liability with the tax you would have owed without the foreign income. If the Foreign Tax Credit exceeds this, you can carry it forward to future tax years.


The Foreign Tax Credit is a crucial term in business and finance as it significantly impacts the taxation process for individuals and businesses with income from foreign sources. It is a non-refundable tax credit that allows taxpayers to offset the impact of double taxation, which occurs when the same income is taxed by both the United States and a foreign country. This credit is thereby essential in promoting fair taxation, encouraging international trade and investment, and preventing the burden of excessive taxation on individuals and businesses. Its significance extends to fostering smooth global economic operations and cross-border business ventures.


The purpose of the Foreign Tax Credit is to mitigate the incidence of an individual or company being taxed on the same income by two different countries, also known as double taxation. It often comes into play for multinational corporations or individuals working in different countries and subsequently earning income from different tax jurisdictions. This may potentially place them in a situation where their income is taxed in the country where it is earned and then again in the nation where they are officially domiciled. The Foreign Tax Credit is used to lessen this tax burden, providing an offsetting mechanism against domestic taxes owed.The Foreign Tax Credit is primarily used to encourage international commerce and movement of capital by preventing the economic friction that double taxation could cause. This pro-business approach supports financial growth, fostering the flexibility for companies and individuals to operate across borders without facing a detrimental tax impact. By allowing taxpayers to decrease their overall liability, they can allocate more resources towards productive investments. Furthermore, it supports fair taxation by ensuring income earned and taxes paid abroad are taken into account.


1. Global Corporation: Let’s consider a scenario where an American corporation, called TechUSA, has substantial operations in Germany. TechUSA earns profits from its German operations, and that income is subject to German corporate tax. When TechUSA repatriates those profits back to the U.S, it’s also subject to U.S. tax. To avoid this kind of double taxation, the U.S. offers a foreign tax credit, allowing TechUSA to reduce its U.S. tax liability by the amount of German taxes it already paid on that foreign income.2. Individual example: Suppose you are a U.S. resident working as an independent contractor for a company based in the UK. You receive income for your services and pay income tax to the UK government. When you report your income in a U.S. tax return, you can claim a foreign tax credit for the income taxes already paid in the UK.3. Digital Services Company: Let’s consider a digital services company called WebWorld based in Canada, but that earns revenue from business conducted in France. WebWorld pays income taxes on that revenue to the French government. When calculating its Canadian tax obligations, WebWorld can claim a foreign tax credit in Canada for the taxes already paid in France, significantly reducing its Canadian tax liability.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Foreign Tax Credit?

Foreign Tax Credit is a non-refundable tax credit for income taxes paid to a foreign government due to foreign income tax withholdings. It is available for taxpayers who work in a foreign country or have investment income from a foreign source.

Who can claim the Foreign Tax Credit?

The Foreign Tax Credit can be claimed by U.S. citizens or resident aliens who are subject to U.S. tax on their foreign income or by U.S. corporations on certain types of income.

How is the Foreign Tax Credit calculated?

The credit is calculated based on the taxes paid on foreign income, but it can’t exceed the U.S. tax liability on the foreign income. It’s typically determined on a per-country basis and may vary depending on the taxpayer’s situation.

What income qualifies for the Foreign Tax Credit?

Generally, the income that qualifies for the Foreign Tax Credit is any income that is taxed by a foreign country, including wages, interest, dividends, rents, and royalties.

How do I claim the Foreign Tax Credit?

To claim the Foreign Tax Credit, you must complete and file IRS Form 1116 with your annual tax return. This form includes details on the foreign income and the taxes paid.

Is the Foreign Tax Credit a dollar-for-dollar credit?

Yes, within certain limits, the Foreign Tax Credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction of your U.S. tax liability for the amount of foreign taxes paid or accrued during the year.

What is the difference between the Foreign Tax Credit and Foreign Earned Income Exclusion?

The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion allows qualifying U.S. citizens and resident aliens to exclude a certain amount of their foreign-earned income from U.S. taxation. In contrast, the Foreign Tax Credit provides a credit for taxes paid to a foreign government on foreign earned income. A taxpayer cannot claim both benefits for the same amount of income.

Can unused Foreign Tax Credit be carried over?

Yes, if your credit is more than the limit, you can carry over the unused portion to the next tax year. Unused credits can be carried forward indefinitely until they are exhausted.

Related Finance Terms

  • Double Taxation
  • Tax Treaties
  • Foreign Earned Income
  • Foreign Tax Deduction
  • Qualified Foreign Taxes

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