This article briefly explains how to reclaim withholding tax on foreign dividends. If you’re looking for an fuller explanation of how foreign dividends are taxed and why you could be paying too much, see this article on tax and foreign stocks (it’s aimed at UK readers, but the principles apply to many other countries). If you want to understand the situation for ISAs and SIPPs specifically, see this article.
If you’ve had too much withholding tax (WHT) deducted from your foreign dividends, you can often reclaim the overpayment. Doing so involves writing to the tax authorities in the country that the company is based in and asking for a refund.
For some countries, this is pretty simple. Others going out of their way to make it as hard as possible. Frankly, except in countries with simple and well-established procedures, you may end up questioning whether it’s worth it or not.
Obviously, if you have substantial dividend income from a particular country, you should probably make the effort. But whether a 5-10% difference in tax on the income from a small shareholding is really worth the time, effort and sanity needed to deal with tax officials around the world is up to you.
Below, I’ve listed the rules and forms for several major countries. In some cases you may be able to make your stock broker do the work, so check before tackling all the forms yourself.
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