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Guide to foreign income tax offset rules 2009-10

Check if you can claim a foreign income tax offset (FITO), how to calculate the amount and what rules apply.

Last updated 28 June 2010


If you have assessable income from overseas, you must declare it in your Australian income tax return. If you have paid foreign tax in another country, you may be entitled to an Australian foreign income tax offset, which provides relief from double taxation.

These rules apply for income years that start on or after 1 July 2008. Different rules apply for income periods up to 30 June 2008 (refer to How to claim a foreign tax credit, NAT 2338).

You can claim a tax offset for the foreign tax you have paid on income, profits or gains (including gains of a capital nature), that are included in your Australian assessable income. In some circumstances, the offset is subject to a limit.

To be entitled to a foreign income tax offset:

Differences between the Australian and foreign tax systems may lead to you paying foreign income tax in a different income year from that in which the income or gain is included in your assessable income for Australian income tax purposes. You could have paid the foreign tax in an earlier or later income year. However, the offset can only be claimed after the foreign tax is paid.

If you paid foreign income tax after the year in which the related income or gains have been included in your Australian tax return, you can claim the offset by lodging an amended assessment for that year. You have up to four years to request an amendment to your assessment from the date you paid the foreign income tax. You should also request an amendment if there is an increase or reduction in the amount of foreign income tax you paid that counts towards the offset.

The foreign income tax offset applies to foreign income tax imposed on all forms of income, profits and gains, (including gains of a capital nature) and to all taxpayers, whether individuals or other entity types.

Note that:

  • while the offset mainly applies to Australian resident taxpayers, in the limited circumstances where the foreign income of a foreign/non-resident is taxed as assessable income in Australia, they may be able to claim the offset
  • in very limited circumstances, foreign tax imposed on Australian source income may count towards a foreign income tax offset.

For a comparison of the foreign income tax offset rules and the foreign tax credit rules, refer to Changes to foreign loss quarantining and foreign tax credit calculation rules - overview.