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Publication 516

Foreign Taxes(p7)

If you pay or accrue taxes to a foreign government, you generally can choose to either claim them as a credit against your U.S. income tax liability or deduct them as an itemized deduction when figuring your taxable income.
Do not include the foreign taxes paid or accrued as withheld income taxes in the Payments section of Form 1040.

Foreign tax credit.(p7)

Your foreign tax credit is subject to a limit based on your taxable income from foreign sources. If you choose to figure a credit against your U.S. tax liability for the foreign taxes, you generally must complete Form 1116 and attach it to your U.S. income tax return.
You cannot claim a credit for foreign taxes paid on amounts excluded from gross income under the foreign earned income or housing exclusions. If all your foreign income is exempt from U.S. tax, you will not be able to claim a foreign tax credit.
If, because of the limit on the credit, you cannot use the full amount of qualified foreign taxes paid or accrued in the tax year, you are allowed to carry the excess back 1 year and then forward 10 years. This rule applies to foreign taxes arising in years beginning after October 22, 2004. Foreign taxes arising before October 23, 2004, generally can be carried back 2 years and then forward 5 years. However, any of those taxes which can be carried forward to any tax year ending after October 22, 2004, can be carried forward an additional 5 years.
Exemption from limit.(p7)
You can elect to not be subject to the foreign tax limit if you meet all the following conditions. If you make the election, you can claim a foreign tax credit without filing Form 1116. However, you cannot carry back or carry over any unused foreign tax to or from this year. See the instructions for the appropriate line in the Tax and Credits section of Form 1040.

Foreign tax deduction.(p7)

If you choose to deduct all foreign income taxes on your U.S. income tax return, itemize the deduction on Schedule A (Form 1040). You cannot deduct foreign taxes paid on income you exclude under the foreign earned income or housing exclusions.


Dennis and Christina are married and live and work in Country X. Dennis works for the U.S. Government and Christina is employed by a private company. They pay income tax to Country X on Christina's income only.
Dennis and Christina file a joint tax return and exclude all of Christina's income. They cannot claim a foreign tax credit or take a deduction for the taxes paid to Country X.
Deduction for other foreign taxes.(p7)
The deduction for foreign taxes other than foreign income taxes is not related to the foreign tax credit. You can take deductions for these miscellaneous foreign taxes and also claim the foreign tax credit for income taxes paid to a foreign country.
You can deduct real property taxes you pay that are imposed on you by a foreign country. You take this deduction on Schedule A (Form 1040). You cannot deduct other foreign taxes, such as personal property taxes, unless you incurred the expenses in a trade or business or in the production of income.

More information.(p7)

The foreign tax credit and deduction, their limits, and carryback and carryover provisions are discussed in detail in Publication 514.