The Foreign Tax Credit: Avoiding Double Taxation

For Canadians earning income abroad or receiving investment income from foreign sources, the specter of double taxation—paying taxes on the same income in both Canada and another country—can be a significant concern. Fortunately, the Canadian tax system includes mechanisms to prevent this financial pitfall, notably through the Foreign Tax Credit (FTC). This provision allows Canadians to offset taxes paid in other countries against their Canadian tax obligations, effectively reducing their overall tax burden. Here’s a closer look at how the FTC works and how you can utilize it.

Eligibility Criteria:

To be eligible for the FTC, you must have paid or accrued taxes to a foreign government on income that is also subject to Canadian tax. This includes employment income, business profits, and investment earnings from non-Canadian sources.

How It Works:

  • Calculation of the Credit: The FTC is calculated based on the foreign tax paid on income that is also taxed in Canada. The credit is limited to the lesser of the actual foreign tax paid or the Canadian tax attributable to the foreign income. This ensures that the credit does not exceed the amount of Canadian tax on the same income.
  • Direct and Indirect Credits: The FTC can be claimed directly for taxes paid to a foreign country on income reported in Canada. Additionally, for those who pay foreign taxes indirectly through mutual funds or corporations, an indirect credit may be available.

Claiming the Credit:

  • Document Foreign Taxes Paid: Keep detailed records and receipts of foreign taxes paid. You will need these documents to support your FTC claim.
  • Complete Form T2209: Canadians must fill out Form T2209, Federal Foreign Tax Credits, to calculate their eligible credit amount for their federal taxes. Similar forms exist for provincial or territorial tax credits.
  • File Your Tax Return: Include Form T2209 with your T1 Income Tax and Benefit Return. The calculated credit is then applied to reduce your Canadian tax payable.

Important Considerations:

  • Tax Treaties: Canada has tax treaties with many countries to prevent double taxation and reduce the risk of fiscal evasion. These treaties may affect how you calculate your FTC and could offer additional benefits.
  • Excess Foreign Tax Credits: If your foreign tax paid exceeds the credit limit in a given year, you may carry back the excess for up to three years or carry it forward for up to ten years, applying it against Canadian tax in a year when the credit limit is not exceeded.


The Foreign Tax Credit is an essential tool for Canadians with international financial interests, offering a way to mitigate the double taxation of foreign income. By understanding how to properly calculate and claim the FTC, you can ensure that you’re not paying more tax than necessary on your global income. Always consult with a tax professional or refer to the Canada Revenue Agency’s guidelines to navigate the complexities of the FTC and maximize your tax savings.

Now What?

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