CIT and International Taxation: Navigating Double Taxation Agreements and Foreign Tax Credits.


In an increasingly globalized world, international business activities play a pivotal role in economic growth and development. However, conducting business across borders often brings about complex tax challenges, including the possibility of double taxation. To address these challenges, Nigeria has entered into Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs) with various countries and provides provisions for foreign tax credits under the Companies Income Tax (CIT) Act. In this article, we will explore how businesses can navigate DTAs and foreign tax credits to avoid double taxation and optimize their global tax positions.

Understanding Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs):

DTAs are bilateral agreements between two countries aimed at preventing the same income or profits from being taxed twice. These agreements allocate taxing rights between the countries involved and provide mechanisms for resolving conflicts arising from overlapping tax jurisdictions.

Key Aspects of DTAs:

  1. Tax Residency: DTAs typically determine an individual’s or a company’s tax residency status to determine which country has the primary right to tax specific types of income.
  2. Permanent Establishment: DTAs define the concept of a permanent establishment, which is a fixed place of business through which an enterprise carries out its business activities. This impacts the allocation of taxing rights on business profits.
  3. Dividends, Interest, Royalties: DTAs often provide reduced withholding tax rates on dividends, interest, and royalties paid between the countries, minimizing the impact of withholding taxes on cross-border payments.

Navigating Foreign Tax Credits:

Foreign tax credits are a mechanism to alleviate the impact of double taxation by allowing a taxpayer to claim a credit for foreign taxes paid against their domestic tax liability. In Nigeria, foreign tax credits are available to companies that derive income from foreign sources.

Maximizing Benefits from DTAs and Foreign Tax Credits:

  1. Determine Applicability: Businesses should first ascertain whether a DTA exists between Nigeria and the foreign country in question. If so, they should review the specific provisions of the DTA to understand the allocation of taxing rights and any available tax reliefs.
  2. Utilize Reduced Withholding Rates: Businesses engaged in cross-border transactions should explore the reduced withholding tax rates available under DTAs for dividends, interest, and royalties. Proper documentation and compliance with treaty requirements are crucial.
  3. Claiming Foreign Tax Credits: To claim foreign tax credits, companies must ensure proper documentation of foreign taxes paid and comply with filing requirements. This involves maintaining records of foreign taxes paid, income earned, and documentation of the foreign tax assessment.
  4. Professional Assistance: Given the technicalities and nuances of international taxation, seeking professional tax advisory services can provide invaluable guidance in navigating DTAs, foreign tax credits, and overall international tax planning.


Double taxation can pose significant challenges for businesses engaged in international activities. By leveraging Double Taxation Agreements and foreign tax credits, companies can mitigate the impact of double taxation, optimize their global tax positions, and enhance their competitiveness in the international marketplace.

For professional advice on Accountancy, Transfer Pricing, Tax, Assurance, Outsourcing, online accounting support, Company Registration, and CAC matters, please contact Sunmola David & CO (Chartered Accountants & Tax Practitioners) at Lagos, Ogun state Nigeria offices, You can also reach us via WhatsApp at +2348038460036.