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Foreign Tax Credit in India


Foreign Tax Credit

Foreign Tax Credit (FTC) is a mechanism designed to prevent double income taxation arising in one country and is subject to tax in another. This system is crucial for individuals and businesses engaged in international transactions, ensuring they are not taxed twice on the same income. In the context of India, foreign tax credit plays a pivotal role in promoting cross-border trade and investments while maintaining a fair and equitable tax environment.

What is a Foreign Tax Credit?

Foreign Tax Credit refers to the relief provided by a country’s tax laws or international tax treaties to taxpayers who have paid taxes on their foreign-sourced income in another jurisdiction. Instead of being taxed twice, taxpayers can claim a credit for the foreign taxes paid, reducing their overall tax liability in their home country.

Significance for Individuals and Businesses

Foreign Tax Credit is immensely significant to individuals and businesses involved in international transactions. It offers several advantages:

  • Avoidance of Double Taxation: Individuals and businesses often earn income from foreign sources, such as dividends, interest, royalties, or profits from international operations. Without the foreign tax credit mechanism, they could be subject to taxation in their home country and the foreign jurisdiction where the income is generated. This can significantly erode profits and discourage cross-border investments.
  • Encouragement of International Trade and Investment: By alleviating the burden of double taxation, foreign tax credit encourages individuals and businesses to engage in cross-border trade and investment. It fosters economic growth by facilitating the flow of capital and resources across borders.
  • Competitiveness: A robust foreign tax credit system enhances a country’s attractiveness as a destination for foreign investment. It makes the tax environment more predictable and reduces the risk of unexpected tax liabilities, fostering a competitive business landscape.

India’s Taxation Policies Regarding Foreign Income

In India, the taxation of foreign income is governed by the Income Tax Act 1961 and the provisions of Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs) signed with various countries. The Act provides guidelines on how foreign income should be taxed, and the DTAAs establish rules for allocating taxing rights between India and its treaty partners.

CategorizatForeign income earned by Indian residents is categorized as “residential” or “foreign” income. Residential income is taxed in India, while foreign income is generally not taxed, subject to certain conditions. However, foreign income may still be liable to tax in India if it falls under specific provisions of the Income Tax Act or if there is no DTAA between India and the relevant country.

Foreign Tax Credit is pivotal in ensuring that individuals and businesses do not face double taxation on foreign-sourced income, providing them with a fair and predictable tax liability structure.

Who is Eligible to Claim a Foreign Tax Credit in India?

Foreign Tax Credit (FTC) eligibility in India depends on specific criteria determining whether individuals and businesses can claim credits for foreign taxes paid. The eligibility criteria encompass residency status, type of income, availability of tax treaties, and adherence to the provisions of the Income Tax Act and relevant Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs).

The following entities are generally eligible to claim a foreign tax credit in India:

  • Individuals: Indian residents earning income from foreign sources can claim foreign tax credits. It applies to individuals who qualify as “residents” under the Income Tax Act.
  • Companies and Businesses: Indian companies and businesses that have earned income from foreign sources and have paid taxes to foreign governments are eligible for foreign tax credits.
  • Non-Residents: Non-resident individuals or foreign companies that have earned income in India and paid taxes on that income in their home country may also be eligible for foreign tax credits under the provisions of relevant tax treaties.

Types of Foreign Taxes Eligible for Credit in India

Foreign Tax Credit (FTC) in India allows taxpayers to claim credits for various foreign taxes paid to other jurisdictions. The types of foreign taxes that may qualify for a credit in India include:

  • Income Tax: Income tax paid to a foreign government on income earned in that country is one of the most common types of foreign taxes eligible for a credit. It can encompass taxes on salaries, wages, business income, rental income, and other forms of earned income.
  • Capital Gains Tax: When an individual or business earns a profit from selling assets, such as stocks, real estate, or other investments, the foreign capital gains tax paid on those gains may qualify for a foreign tax credit in India.
  • Withholding Tax: Withholding tax, also known as tax deducted at source (TDS) in some countries, is a tax withheld by the payer while making payments to non-resident individuals or businesses. It typically applies to payments like dividends, interest, royalties, and fees for technical services. The amount of withholding tax deducted can often be claimed as a foreign tax credit.
  • Tax on Dividends: If an individual or entity receives dividends from foreign companies and pays taxes on those dividends in the foreign jurisdiction, the corresponding foreign tax may be eligible for a credit in India.
  • Taxes on Royalties and Technical Fees: Similar to dividends, if someone receives royalties or fees for technical services from foreign sources and pays taxes on those earnings in a foreign country, the associated foreign taxes could qualify for a credit in India.
  • Foreign Property Taxes: Property taxes paid to foreign governments on real estate holdings, such as land or buildings, may also be eligible for a foreign tax credit in India.
  • Other Taxes: Other types of foreign taxes that could qualify for the credit include social security taxes, value-added taxes (VAT), and excise taxes, depending on the specific provisions of the Income Tax Act and relevant tax treaties.

Calculating the Foreign Tax Credit

Calculating the foreign tax credit involves determining the eligible amount of credit that can be claimed based on the foreign taxes paid on income earned in another country. The goal is to prevent double taxation on the same income. The credit calculation method can vary based on the taxpayer’s situation and the provisions of the Income Tax Act and relevant Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs).

Here is a general overview of the procedure:

  • Determine Eligible Foreign Income: Identify the types of foreign income for which foreign taxes have been paid. This can include income categories like salary, interest, dividends, royalties, and capital gains.
  • Convert Foreign Income to Indian Currency: Convert the foreign income into Indian rupees using the applicable exchange rate for the relevant assessment year.
  • Compute Total Foreign Tax Paid: Calculate the total amount of foreign taxes paid on the eligible foreign income. This involves converting the foreign taxes paid in foreign currency to Indian rupees using the exchange rate for the payment date.
  • Calculate Total Indian Tax Payable: Determine the total tax liability in India on the foreign income, including applicable deductions, exemptions, and other adjustments.
  • Determine the Maximum Allowable Credit: The foreign tax credit is generally limited to the lower of the actual foreign tax paid or the Indian tax payable on the foreign income. This ensures that the credit does not exceed the Indian tax liability. This limit is crucial for preventing the credit from exceeding the taxes due in India.
  • Calculate the Foreign Tax Credit: The foreign tax credit is less than the actual tax paid, and the Indian tax is payable on foreign income. This credit can then be subtracted from the Indian tax liability, reducing the overall tax payable.

Example Calculation: Let us consider an example to illustrate the foreign tax credit calculation:

Foreign income earned: $10,000

Foreign taxes paid: $2,000

Exchange rate: 1 USD = 75 INR

Indian tax payable on foreign income: $1,500


Convert foreign income to Indian currency: $10,000 * 75 INR/USD = 750,000 INR.

Convert foreign taxes paid to Indian currency: $2,000 * 75 INR/USD = 150,000 INR.

Calculate foreign tax credit: Lesser of 150,000 INR (actual foreign tax paid) and 1,500 INR (Indian tax payable) = 1,500 INR.

In this example, the foreign tax credit that can be claimed is 1,500 INR. This credit would be subtracted from the individual’s Indian tax liability.

Limitations on the Amount of Foreign Tax Credit

While the foreign tax credit mechanism helps prevent double taxation and promotes international trade and investment, taxpayers must be aware of certain limitations and considerations when claiming foreign tax credits. These limitations are in place to ensure fairness and prevent potential abuses of the credit system. 

Here are some fundamental limitations:

  • Limitation to Indian Tax Liability: The foreign tax credit is generally limited to the amount of Indian tax payable on foreign income. Taxpayers cannot claim a credit that exceeds their Indian tax liability on that income. This limitation ensures that the credit is used to eliminate or reduce double taxation rather than resulting in a net tax benefit.
  • Specific Income Categories: Some tax treaties and provisions may limit the foreign tax credit to particular types of income. For example, certain treaties might allow credits only for income categories like dividends, interest, royalties, or capital gains. Taxpayers should be aware of the eligible income categories under the relevant provisions.
  • Source and Country Limitations: Tax treaties and regulations may impose limitations based on the source of income and the country where the foreign taxes were paid. Taxpayers need to ensure that the foreign income is eligible for a credit based on the provisions of the Income Tax Act and relevant DTAAs.
  • Timing of Credit Claim: In some cases, there might be limitations on the timing of claiming the foreign tax credit. Taxpayers should follow the prescribed procedures and timelines for claiming the credit, which may vary based on the assessment year and jurisdiction.
  • No Double Benefit: Taxpayers cannot claim a foreign tax credit for taxes already claimed as an expense, deduction, or credit in India or another jurisdiction. This prevents double benefits from being obtained.
  • Subdivision of Income: In some instances where income is taxed in a foreign jurisdiction at a different rate from the overall tax rate, there could be complexities related to subdividing the foreign income into various components for calculating the credit.
  • Anti-Avoidance Rules: Anti-avoidance rules might be in place to prevent abuse of the foreign tax credit system. These rules are designed to prevent artificial transactions or structures solely to claim credits.
  • The complexity of International Taxation: The calculation of foreign tax credits can become intricate when dealing with multiple sources of foreign income, various types of foreign taxes, and interactions with tax treaties. Professional advice is advisable to navigate these complexities accurately.
  • Documentation and Compliance: Proper documentation of foreign taxes paid, as well as adherence to the provisions of the Income Tax Act and relevant tax treaties, is crucial. More accurate documentation can lead to credit claim rejections or potential penalties.


In conclusion, foreign tax credits ensure equitable taxation and encourage international economic activities. India’s foreign tax credit system, governed by the Income Tax Act and Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs), prevents double taxation and promotes cross-border trade and investment. Eligible individuals and businesses can claim credits for foreign taxes paid on various income categories, such as income tax, capital gains tax, and withholding tax.

However, limitations exist to prevent misuse, ensuring the credit is aligned with the Indian tax liability and specific income categories. Recent developments in India’s foreign tax credit rules further refined the system to adapt to evolving international taxation trends. As the global economic landscape evolves, understanding these rules is essential for taxpayers engaging in international transactions to optimize tax outcomes and ensure compliance with the prevailing regulations.

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