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First, the standard disclaimer: I'm not a tax expert, so you'll want to check with your tax advisor.

That said, if you hold a foreign dividend payer in a taxable account and the foreign country requires the company to withhold taxes on the dividend (e.g., Canada does this at a 15% rate, but not all countries require the withholding), then (in most cases, depending on the country) you're able to claim a foreign tax credit for the withheld taxes when you file your US tax return, which keeps you from being taxed twice on the same income (i.e., by both the foreign jurisdiction and the US).

If you hold the same dividend payer in your IRA, the company still withholds the taxes on the dividend, but you can't claim the credit for the withheld taxes (because US taxes on the dividend are deferred until you take a distribution), which effectively lowers your dividend yield.

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