Generally, the following four tests must be met for any foreign tax
to qualify for the credit.
- The tax must be imposed on you.
- You must have paid or accrued the tax.
- The tax must be the legal and actual foreign tax
- The tax must be an income tax (or a tax in lieu of an income
Certain foreign taxes do not qualify for the credit even if the
four tests are met. See Reduction in Total Foreign Taxes
Available for Credit and Foreign Taxes for Which You Cannot
Take a Credit, later.
Tax Must Be
Imposed on You
You can claim a credit only for foreign taxes that are imposed on
you by a foreign country or U.S. possession. For example, a tax that
is deducted from your wages is considered to be imposed on you. You
cannot shift the right to claim the credit by contract or other means.
A foreign country includes any foreign state and its political
subdivisions. Income, war profits, and excess profits taxes paid or
accrued to a foreign city or province qualify for the foreign tax
For foreign tax credit purposes, all qualified taxes paid to U.S.
possessions are considered foreign taxes. For this purpose, U.S.
possessions include Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands,
and American Samoa.
When the term "foreign country" is used in this publication,
it includes U.S. possessions unless otherwise stated.
You Must Have Paid or Accrued the Tax
Generally, you can claim the credit only if you paid or
accrued the foreign tax to a foreign country or U.S. possession.
However, the paragraphs that follow describe some instances in which
you can claim the credit even if you did not directly pay or accrue
the tax yourself.
If you file a joint return, you can claim the credit based on the
total of any foreign income tax paid or accrued by you and your
Partner or S corporation shareholder.
If you are a member of a partnership, or a shareholder in an S
corporation, you can claim the credit based on your proportionate
share of the foreign income taxes paid or accrued by the partnership
or the S corporation. These amounts will be shown on the Schedule
K-1 you receive from the partnership or S corporation. However,
if you are a shareholder in an S corporation that in turn owns stock
in a foreign corporation, you cannot claim a credit for your share of
foreign taxes paid by the foreign corporation.
If you are a beneficiary of an estate or trust, you may be able to
claim the credit based on your proportionate share of foreign income
taxes paid or accrued by the estate or trust. This amount will be
shown on the Schedule K-1 you receive from the estate or trust.
However, you must show that the tax was imposed on income of the
estate and not on income received by the decedent.
Mutual fund shareholder.
If you are a shareholder of a mutual fund, you may be able to claim
the credit based on your share of foreign income taxes paid by the
fund if it chooses to pass the credit on to its shareholders. You
should receive from the mutual fund a Form 1099-DIV, or similar
statement, showing the foreign country or U.S. possession, your share
of the foreign income, and your share of the foreign taxes paid. If
you do not receive this information, you will need to contact the
Controlled foreign corporation shareholder.
If you are a shareholder of a controlled foreign corporation and
choose to be taxed at corporate rates on the amount you must include
in gross income from that corporation, you can claim the credit based
on your share of foreign taxes paid or accrued by the controlled
foreign corporation. If you make this election, you must claim the
credits by filing Form 1118, Foreign Tax Credit--
Controlled foreign corporation.
A controlled foreign corporation is a foreign corporation in which
U.S. shareholders own more than 50% of the voting power or value of
the stock. You are considered a U.S. shareholder if you own, directly
and indirectly, 10% or more of the total voting power of all classes
of the foreign corporation's stock. See Internal Revenue Code sections
951(b) and 958(b) for more information.
Tax Must Be the Legal and Actual Foreign Tax Liability
The amount of foreign tax that qualifies is not necessarily the
amount of tax withheld by the foreign country. Only the legal and
actual foreign tax liability that you paid or accrued during the year
qualifies for the credit.
Foreign tax refund.
You cannot take a foreign tax credit for income taxes paid to a
foreign country if it is reasonably certain the amount would be
refunded, credited, rebated, abated, or forgiven if you made a claim.
For example, the United States has tax treaties or conventions with
many countries allowing U.S. citizens and residents reductions in the
rates of tax of those foreign countries. However, some treaty
countries require U.S. citizens and residents to pay the tax figured
without regard to the lower treaty rates and then claim a refund for
the amount by which the tax actually paid is more than the amount of
tax figured using the lower treaty rate. The qualified foreign tax is
the amount figured using the lower treaty rate and not the amount
actually paid, since the excess tax is refundable.
Tax payments a foreign country returns to you in the form of a
subsidy do not qualify for the foreign tax credit. This rule applies
even if the subsidy is given to a person related to you, or persons
who participated with you in a transaction or a related transaction. A
subsidy can be provided by any means but must be determined, directly
or indirectly, in relation to the amount of tax, or to the base used
to figure the tax.
The term "subsidy" includes any type of benefit. Some ways of
providing a subsidy are refunds, credits, deductions, payments, or
discharges of obligations.
Shareholder receiving refund for corporate tax in integrated
Under some foreign tax laws and treaties, a shareholder is
considered to have paid part of the tax that is imposed on the
corporation. You may be able to claim a refund of these taxes from the
foreign government. You must include the refund (including any amount
withheld) in your income in the year received. Any tax withheld from
the refund is a qualified foreign tax.
You are a shareholder of a French corporation. You receive a $100
refund of the tax paid to France by the corporation on the earnings
distributed to you as a dividend. The French government imposes a 15%
withholding tax ($15) on the refund you received. You receive a check
for $85. You include $100 in your income. The $15 of tax withheld is a
qualified foreign tax.
Tax Must Be an Income
Tax (or Tax in Lieu of Income Tax)
Generally, only income, war profits, and excess profits taxes
(income taxes) qualify for the foreign tax credit. Foreign taxes on
wages, dividends, interest, and royalties generally qualify for the
credit. Furthermore, foreign taxes on income can qualify even though
they are not imposed under an income tax law if the tax is in lieu of
an income, war profits, or excess profits tax. See Taxes in Lieu
of Income Taxes, later.
Simply because the levy is called an income tax by the foreign
taxing authority does not make it an income tax for this purpose. A
foreign levy is an income tax only if it meets both of the following
- It is a tax; that is, you have to pay it and you get no
specific economic benefit (discussed below) from paying it.
- The predominant character of the tax is that of an income
tax in the U.S. sense.
A foreign levy may meet these requirements even if the foreign
tax law differs from U.S. tax law. The foreign law may include in
income items that U.S. law does not include, or it may allow certain
exclusions or deductions that U.S. law does not allow.
Specific economic benefit.
Generally, you get a specific economic benefit if you receive, or
are considered to receive, an economic benefit from the foreign
country imposing the levy, and:
- If there is a generally imposed income tax, the economic
benefit is not available on substantially the same terms to all
persons subject to the income tax, or
- If there is no generally imposed income tax, the economic
benefit is not available on substantially the same terms to the
population of the foreign country in general.
You are considered to receive a specific economic benefit if you
have a business transaction with a person who receives a specific
economic benefit from the foreign country and, under the terms and
conditions of the transaction, you receive directly or indirectly some
part of the benefit.
However, see the exception discussed later under Pension,
unemployment, and disability fund payments.
Economic benefits include:
- Fees or other payments,
- Rights to use, acquire, or extract resources, patents, or
other property the foreign country owes or controls, and
- Discharges of contractual obligations.
Generally, the right or privilege merely to engage in business is
not an economic benefit.
If you are subject to a foreign country's levy and you also receive
a specific economic benefit from that foreign country, you are a
"dual-capacity taxpayer." As a dual-capacity taxpayer, you cannot
claim a credit for any part of the foreign levy, unless you establish
that the amount paid under a distinct element of the foreign levy is a
tax, rather than a compulsory payment for a direct or indirect
specific economic benefit.
||For more information on how to establish amounts paid under
separate elements of a levy, write to:
Internal Revenue Service
International Returns Section
P.O. Box 920
Bensalem, PA 19020-8518.
Pension, unemployment, and disability fund payments.
A foreign tax imposed on an individual to pay for retirement,
old-age, death, survivor, unemployment, illness, or disability
benefits, or for similar purposes, is not payment for a specific
economic benefit if the amount of the tax does not depend on the age,
life expectancy, or similar characteristics of that individual.
No deduction or credit is
allowed, however, for social security taxes paid or accrued
to a foreign country with which the United States has a social
security agreement. For more information about these agreements, see
A foreign tax is not predominantly an income tax and does not
qualify for credit to the extent it is a soak-up tax. A tax is a
soak-up tax to the extent that liability for it depends on the
availability of a credit for it against income tax imposed by another
country. This rule applies only if and to the extent that the foreign
tax would not be imposed if the credit were not available.
Taxes not based on income.
Foreign taxes based on gross receipts or the number of units
produced, rather than on realized net income, do not qualify
unless they are imposed in lieu of an income tax, as
discussed next. Taxes based on assets, such as property taxes, do not
qualify for the credit.
Penalties and interest.
Amounts paid to a foreign government to satisfy a liability for
interest, fines, penalties, or any similar obligation are not taxes
and do not qualify for the credit.
Taxes in Lieu of Income Taxes
A tax paid or accrued to a foreign country qualifies for the credit
if it is imposed in lieu of an income tax otherwise generally imposed.
A foreign levy is a tax in lieu of an income tax only if:
- It is not payment for a specific economic benefit as
discussed earlier, and
- The tax is imposed in place of, and not in addition to, an
income tax otherwise generally imposed.
A tax in lieu of an income tax does not have to be based on
realized net income. A foreign tax imposed on gross income, gross
receipts or sales, or the number of units produced or exported can
qualify for the credit.
A soak-up tax (discussed earlier) generally does not qualify as a
tax in lieu of an income tax. However, if the foreign country imposes
a soak-up tax in lieu of an income tax, the amount that does not
qualify for foreign tax credit is the lesser of the following amounts.
- The soak-up tax.
- The foreign tax you paid that is more than the amount you
would have paid if you had been subject to the generally imposed
Reduction in Total
Available for Credit
You must reduce your total foreign taxes that are available for the
credit under the following circumstances.
Taxes on Excluded Income
You must reduce your foreign taxes available for the credit by the
amount of those taxes paid or accrued on income that is excluded from
U.S. income under the foreign earned income exclusion or the foreign
housing exclusion. See Publication 54
for more information on the
foreign earned income and housing exclusions.
Wages completely excluded.
If your wages are completely excluded, you cannot take a credit for
any of the foreign taxes paid or accrued on these wages.
Wages partly excluded.
If only part of your wages is excluded, you cannot take a credit
for the foreign income taxes allocable to the excluded part. You find
the amount allocable to your excluded wages by multiplying the foreign
tax paid or accrued on foreign earned income received or accrued
during the tax year by a fraction.
The numerator of the fraction is your foreign earned
income and housing amounts excluded under the foreign earned income
and housing exclusions for the tax year minus otherwise deductible
expenses definitely related and properly apportioned to that income.
Deductible expenses do not include the foreign housing deduction.
The denominator is your total foreign earned income
received or accrued during the tax year minus all deductible expenses
allocable to that income (including the foreign housing deduction). If
the foreign law taxes foreign earned income and some other income (for
example, earned income from U.S. sources or a type of income not
subject to U.S. tax), and the taxes on the other income cannot be
segregated, the denominator of the fraction is the total amount of
income subject to the foreign tax minus deductible expenses allocable
to that income.
You are a U.S. citizen and a cash basis taxpayer, employed by
Company X and living in Country A. Your records show the following:
|Foreign earned income received
|Unreimbursed business travel expenses
|Income tax paid to Country A
|Exclusion of foreign earned income and housing
Because you can exclude part of your wages, you cannot claim a
credit for part of the foreign taxes. To find that part, do the
First, find the amount of business expenses allocable to excluded
wages and therefore not deductible. To do this, multiply the otherwise
deductible expenses by a fraction. That fraction is the excluded wages
over your foreign earned income.
Next, find the numerator of the fraction by which you will multiply
the foreign taxes paid. To do this, subtract business expenses
allocable to excluded wages ($14,538) from excluded wages ($87,225).
The result is $72,687.
Then, find the denominator of the fraction by subtracting all your
deductible expenses from all your foreign earned income ($120,000 -
$20,000 = $100,000).
Finally, multiply the foreign tax you paid by the resulting
The amount of Country A tax you
cannot take a credit for is $21,806.
Taxes On Foreign Mineral Income
You must reduce any taxes paid or accrued to a foreign country or
possession on mineral income from that country or possession if you
were allowed a deduction for percentage depletion for any part of the
Taxes From International
If you participate in or cooperate with an international boycott
during the tax year, your foreign taxes resulting from boycott
activities will reduce the total taxes available for credit. See the
instructions for line 12 in the Form 1116 instructions to figure this
This rule generally does not apply to employees with wages who are
working and living in boycotting countries, or to retirees with
pensions who are living in these countries.
List of boycotting countries.
A list of the countries which may require participation in or
cooperation with an international boycott is published by the
Department of the Treasury each calendar quarter. As of the date this
publication was printed, the following countries are listed.
Table 1. Boycotting Countries
||For information concerning changes to the list, write to:
Internal Revenue Service
International Returns Section
P.O. Box 920
Bensalem, PA 19020-8518
Determinations of whether the boycott rule applies.
You may request a determination from the Internal Revenue Service
as to whether a particular operation constitutes participation in or
cooperation with an international boycott. The procedures for
obtaining a determination from the Service are outlined in Revenue
Procedure 77-9 in Cumulative Bulletin 1977-1.
You can buy the Cumulative Bulletin from the Government Printing
Office. Copies are also available in most IRS offices and you are
welcome to read them there.
A determination and any related background file is open to public
inspection. However, your identity and certain other information will
You must file a report with the IRS if you or any of the following
persons have operations in or related to a boycotting country or with
the government, a company, or national of a boycotting country.
- A foreign corporation in which you own 10% or more of the
voting power of all voting stock but only if you own the stock of the
foreign corporation directly or through foreign entities.
- A partnership in which you are a partner.
- A trust you are treated as owning.
Form 5713 required.
If you have to file a report, you must use Form 5713,
International Boycott Report,
and attach all supporting schedules.
You must file the form in duplicate when your tax return is due,
including extensions. Send one copy to the Internal Revenue Service
Center, Philadelphia, PA 19255. Attach the other copy to your income
tax return that you file with your usual Internal Revenue Service
Center. Your reports submitted as part of the tax return are
Penalty for failure to file.
If you willfully fail to make a report, in addition to other
penalties, you may be fined $25,000 or imprisoned for no more than one
year, or both.
Taxes of U.S. Persons Controlling Foreign Corporations and
If you had control of a foreign corporation or a foreign
partnership for the annual accounting period of that corporation or
partnership that ended with or within your tax year, you may have to
file an annual information return.
U.S. persons controlling foreign corporations.
If you had control of a foreign corporation for an uninterrupted
period of at least 30 days during the annual accounting period of that
corporation, you may have to file an annual information return on
Form 5471, Information Return of U.S. Persons With
Respect To Certain Foreign Corporations. Under this rule, you
generally had control of a foreign corporation if at any time during
the corporation's tax year you owned:
- Stock possessing more than 50% of the total combined voting
power of all classes of stock entitled to vote, or
- More than 50% of the total value of shares of all classes of
stock of the foreign corporation.
U.S. persons controlling foreign partnerships.
If you had control of a foreign partnership at any time during the
partnership's tax year, you may have to file an annual information
return on Form 8865, Return of U.S. Persons With
Respect to Certain Foreign Partnerships. Under this rule you
generally had control of the partnership if you owned more than 50% of
the capital or profits or interest, or an interest to which 50% of the
deductions or losses are allocated.
You also may have to file Form 8865 if at any time during the tax
year of the partnership, you owned a 10% or greater interest in the
partnership while the partnership was controlled by U.S. persons
owning at least a 10% interest. See the Instructions for Form
8865 for more information.
Penalty for not filing Form 5471 or Form 8865.
Generally, there is a dollar penalty of $10,000 for each annual
accounting period for which you fail to furnish information.
Additional penalties apply if the failure continues for more than 90
days after the day on which notice of the failure to furnish the
information is mailed.
If you fail to file either Form 5471 or Form 8865 when due, you may
also be required to reduce by 10% all foreign taxes that may be used
for the foreign tax credit. This 10% reduction shall not exceed the
greater of $10,000 or the income of the foreign corporation or foreign
partnership for the accounting period for which the failure occurs.
This foreign tax credit penalty is also reduced by the amount of the
dollar penalty imposed.
Foreign Taxes for Which You Cannot Take a Credit
At the time this publication was being prepared for print, Congress
was considering legislation that would replace the foreign sales
corporation provisions with an extraterritorial income exclusion. If
the pending legislation is enacted, foreign taxes paid on excluded
extraterritorial income will not qualify for the foreign tax credit or
the deduction for foreign taxes. For more information about this and
other important tax changes, see Publication 553,
2000 Tax Changes.
You cannot claim a foreign tax credit for foreign income taxes paid
or accrued under the following circumstances. However, you can claim
an itemized deduction for these taxes. See Choosing To Take
Credit or Deduction, earlier.
Taxes Imposed By Sanctioned Countries (Section 901(j) Income)
You cannot claim a foreign tax credit for income taxes paid or
accrued to any country if the income giving rise to the tax is for a
period (the sanction period) during which:
- The Secretary of State has designated the country as one
that repeatedly provides support for acts of international terrorism,
- The United States has severed or does not conduct diplomatic
relations with the country, or
- The United States does not recognize the country's
government, unless that government is eligible to purchase defense
articles or services under the Arms Export Control Act.
Table 2 lists countries that meet this description
for 2000. Income taxes paid or accrued to these countries in 2000 do
not qualify for the credit.
Table 2. Sanctioned Countries
Income that is paid through one or more entities is treated as
coming from a foreign country listed in Table 2 if the
original source of the income is from one of the listed countries.
Limit on credit.
In figuring the foreign tax credit limit, discussed later, income
from a sanctioned country listed in Table 2 is a separate
category of foreign income. You must fill out a separate Form 1116 for
this income. This will prevent you from claiming a credit for foreign
taxes paid or accrued to the sanctioned country.
Table 3. Countries Removed From the Sanctioned List
You lived and worked in Libya until August, when you were
transferred to Italy. You paid taxes to each country on the income
earned in that country. You cannot claim a foreign tax credit for the
foreign taxes paid on the income earned in Libya. Because the income
earned in Libya is a separate category of foreign income, you must
fill out a separate Form 1116 for that income. You cannot take a
credit for taxes paid on the income earned in Libya, but that income
is taxable in the United States.
Figuring the credit when a sanction ends.
Table 3 lists the countries for which sanctions have
been lifted. For any of these countries, you can claim a foreign tax
credit for the taxes paid or accrued to that country on the income for
the period that begins after the end of the sanction period.
The sanctions against Country X were lifted on July 31. On August
19, you receive a distribution from a mutual fund of Country X income.
The fund paid Country X income tax for you on the distribution.
Because the distribution was made after the sanction was lifted, you
may include the foreign tax paid on the distribution to compute your
foreign tax credit.
Amounts for the nonsanctioned period.
If a sanction period ends during your tax year and you are not able
to determine the actual income and taxes for the nonsanctioned period,
you can allocate amounts to that period based on the number of days in
the period that fall in your tax year. Multiply the income or taxes
for the year by the following fraction to determine the amounts
allocable to the nonsanctioned period.
You are a calendar year filer and received $20,000 of income from
Country X in 2000 on which you paid tax of $4,500. Sanctions against
Country X were lifted on July 11, 2000. You are unable to determine
how much of the income or tax is for the nonsanctioned period. Because
your tax year starts on January 1, and the Country X sanction was
lifted on July 11, 2000, 173 days of your tax year are in the
nonsanctioned period. You would compute the income for the
nonsanctioned period as follows:
You would compute the tax for the
nonsanctioned period as follows:
To figure your foreign tax credit, you would use $9,454 as the
income from Country X and $2,127 as the tax.
The rules for figuring the foreign tax credit after a country's
sanction period ends are more fully explained in Revenue Ruling
92-62, Cumulative Bulletin 1992-2, page 193. This
Cumulative Bulletin can be found in many libraries and IRS
Taxes Imposed on
You cannot claim a foreign tax credit for withholding tax on
dividends paid or accrued after September 4, 1997, if either of the
following applies to the dividends.
- The dividends are on stock you held for less than 16 days
during the 30-day period that begins 15 days before the ex-dividend
- The dividends are for a period or periods totaling more than
366 days on preferred stock you held for less than 46 days during the
90-day period that begins 45 days before the ex-dividend date. If the
dividend is not for more than 366 days, rule (1) applies to the
When figuring how long you held the stock, count the day you
sold it, but do not count the day you acquired it or any days on which
you are protected from risk or loss.
Regardless of how long you held the stock, you cannot claim the
credit to the extent you have an obligation under a short sale or
otherwise to make payments related to the dividend for positions in
substantially similar or related property.
For this purpose, withholding tax includes any tax determined on a
gross basis. It does not include any tax which is in the nature of a
prepayment of a tax imposed on a net basis.
The ex-dividend date is the first date on which, if the stock were
sold, the dividend would be payable to the seller rather than the
You bought common stock from a foreign corporation on November 3.
You sold the stock on November 19. You received a dividend on this
stock because you owned it on the ex-dividend date of November 5. To
claim the credit, you must have held the stock for at least 16 days
within the 30-day period that began on October 21 (15 days before the
ex-dividend date). Since you held the stock for 16 days, from November
4 until November 19, you are entitled to the credit.
The facts are the same as in Example 1 except that you
sold the stock on November 14. You held the stock for only 11 days.
You are not entitled to the credit.
If you are a securities dealer who actively conducts business in a
foreign country, you may be able to claim a foreign tax credit for
qualified taxes paid on dividends regardless of how long you held the
stock. See section 901(k)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code for more
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