What is a Tax Treaty?

US EXPATTAX TRETAIES

Overview

The United States has an income tax treaty with a number of foreign countries. Under these treaties, residents (not necessarily citizens) of foreign countries are taxed at a reduced rate, or are exempt from U.S. income taxes on certain items of income they receive from sources within the United States. These reduced rates and exemptions vary among countries and specific items of income.

The following are countries that have tax treaties with the US: Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Trinidad, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine,  , Uzbekistan, and Venezuela.

If the treaty does not cover a particular kind of income, or if there is no treaty between your country and the United States, you must pay tax on the income in the same way and at the same rates shown in the instructions for Form 1040NR, U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return.

Tax treaties reduce the U.S. taxes of residents of foreign countries. With certain exceptions, they do not reduce the U.S. taxes of U.S. citizens or residents. U.S. citizens and residents are subject to U.S. income tax on their worldwide income.

Treaty provisions generally are reciprocal (apply to both treaty countries). Therefore, a U.S. citizen or resident who receives income from a treaty country and who is subject to taxes imposed by foreign countries may be entitled to certain credits, deductions, exemptions, and reductions in the rate of taxes of those foreign countries. Treaty benefits generally are available to residents of the United States. They generally are not available to U.S. citizens who do not reside in the United States. However, certain treaty benefits and safeguards, such as the nondiscrimination provisions, are available to U.S. citizens residing in the treaty countries. U.S. citizens residing in a foreign country may also be entitled to benefits under that country’s tax treaties with third countries.

Foreign taxing authorities sometimes require certification from the U.S. Government that an applicant filed an income tax return as a U.S. citizen or resident, as part of the proof of entitlement to the treaty benefits..

Note: You should carefully examine the specific treaty articles that may apply to find if you are entitled to a:

  • tax credit,
  • tax exemption,
  • reduced rate of tax, or
  • other treaty benefit or safeguard.

The Effect of Tax Treaties

The rules given to determine if you are a U.S. tax resident do not override tax treaty definitions of residency.

If you are treated as a resident of a foreign country under a tax treaty, you are treated as a nonresident alien in figuring your U.S. income tax. For purposes other than figuring your tax, you will be treated as a U.S. resident. For example, the rules discussed here do not affect your residency time periods to determine if you are a resident alien or nonresident alien during a tax year.

If you are a resident of both the United States and another country under each country’s tax laws, you are a dual resident taxpayer. If you are a dual resident taxpayer, you can still claim the benefits under an income tax treaty. The income tax treaty between the two countries must contain a provision that provides for resolution of conflicting claims of residence.

The USA has a tax treaty with many countries and the specific tax treaty for each country should be read from the related tax treaty between the USA and the specific Country .

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About the author...

Joshua Katz, CPA

After working for several accounting large firms, I founded Universal Tax Professionals because I knew I could give expats more personalized services at lower rates. Feel free to email me directly at josh@universaltaxprofessionals.com.

Joshua Katz, CPA