If you’ve ever done business overseas or earned income from foreign sources, you’re probably keenly aware that the intricacies of international taxation can become complex quickly. One key aspect of navigating this complex area is understanding and utilizing Foreign Tax Credits (FTC). Here’s what you need to know.

What are Foreign Tax Credits?

FTC are non-refundable tax credits for income taxes paid to a foreign government as a result of foreign income tax withholdings. The main purpose of the FTC is to mitigate the double taxation of income earned overseas.

How do Foreign Tax Credits Work?

Generally, you can claim the FTC on your U.S. tax return for the amount of foreign tax paid or accrued during the year, thus reducing your U.S. tax liability on that income. However, the FTC is subject to various rules and limitations.

The Limitation on Foreign Tax Credits

Your foreign tax credit cannot exceed your total U.S. tax liability multiplied by a ratio. The numerator of the ratio is your taxable income from sources outside the United States. The denominator is your total taxable income from U.S. and foreign sources.

The Passive and General Limitation Baskets

Foreign Tax Credits are divided into two baskets – Passive and General. The passive basket includes passive income such as interest, dividends, rents, and royalties. The general basket consists of other types of income. Each basket is subject to its own FTC limitation.

How to Claim Foreign Tax Credits?

To claim the FTC, you must file a Form 1116 with your U.S. income tax return. This form will help you calculate the credit and its limitation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I carry over Unused Foreign Tax Credits?

Yes, if your credit is more than the limit, you can carry over the unused part to the next tax year and apply it then.

Can I claim the FTC if I take the standard deduction?

Yes, you can still claim the FTC even if you take the standard deduction on your U.S. tax return.

How long do I have to carry over Unused Foreign Tax Credits?

You can carry over unused FTCs for up to 10 years.


Understanding and utilizing Foreign Tax Credits can significantly impact your tax liability when dealing with foreign income. However, the regulations and rules can be quite complex and often require careful analysis. Consulting with a tax professional is always recommended when maneuvering through the intricacies of international taxation.