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Guide to foreign income tax offset rules 2012–13

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

Last updated 27 June 2013


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; see How to claim a foreign tax credit 2008 (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 your 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 might 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 requesting 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.

While the offset mainly applies to Australian resident taxpayers, in the limited circumstances where the foreign income of a foreign person or 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.

Calculating the offset

You claim the foreign income tax offset in your income tax return.

If claiming an offset of $1,000 or less, you only need to record the actual amount of foreign income tax paid on your assessable income (up to $1,000).

If claiming a foreign income tax offset of more than $1,000, you will first need to work out your foreign income tax offset limit.

Before you calculate your net income, you must convert all foreign income deductions and foreign tax paid to Australian dollars; see Converting foreign income to Australian dollars.

All types of income are treated the same for the purposes of working out the foreign income tax offset.

Record keeping

To claim a foreign income tax offset, you will need to keep adequate records of your foreign income and tax paid.

Transitional rules

Any excess amount of foreign tax that cannot be recouped as an offset in an income year cannot be carried forward (unlike the previous system of foreign tax credits). However, transitional rules enable a taxpayer with pre-existing excess foreign tax credits to use some of these amounts in certain circumstances.

Attributed foreign income

If you have interests in a foreign entity, your share of its income may be attributed to you for income tax purposes, even if the income has not yet been distributed.

If you have attributed foreign income, you may be entitled to a foreign income tax offset for foreign income tax, income tax, or withholding tax paid by a controlled foreign company (CFC) in which you hold an interest.

For more information on the tax treatment of attributed income, see Attributed foreign income.