In order for you to make the kind of passive income you would like you need to make sure the market segment you want to help has critical mass. If you have the best widget in the world, but only 14 people need or want it, then you don’t have a viable business. The great article 1,000 True Fans, by Kevin Kelly, cofounder of Wired Research, talks about if you have 1,000 people who are your customer, each paying you $100 a year, you now have $100,000 a year of passive income. The point is that you don’t need to serve the entire human population, just enough to have critical mass.
The main idea behind the new passive income rules is to create a system that taxes businesses proportionally to their overall size and income amount. If you’re mostly dealing with smaller startups and family-run businesses, these new passive income rules will probably have little effect, and may even allow companies more freedom to grow their business.
Generally, rental activities are passive activities even if you materially participated in them. However, if you qualified as a real estate professional, rental real estate activities in which you materially participated aren’t passive activities. For this purpose, each interest you have in a rental real estate activity is a separate activity, unless you choose to treat all interests in rental real estate activities as one activity. See the Instructions for Schedule E (Form 1040), Supplemental Income and Loss, for information about making this choice.