However, self-publishing is a good option for generating passive income and fits very well with the “work-up-front, reap benefits later” model. It’s a ton of work to write a book, especially when you’re just getting everything like editing, formatting, cover design, and book descriptions all figured out. But, once you do all that work, you can upload it to Amazon and then hopefully keep earning commissions for months or even years.
If your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is $100,000 or less ($50,000 or less if married filing separately), you can deduct your loss up to the amount specified above. If your MAGI is more than $100,000 (more than $50,000 if married filing separately), your special allowance is limited to 50% of the difference between $150,000 ($75,000 if married filing separately) and your MAGI.

Even if you’re personally liable for the repayment of a borrowed amount or you secure a borrowed amount with property other than property used in the activity, you aren’t considered at risk if you borrowed the money from a person having an interest in the activity or from someone related to a person (other than you) having an interest in the activity. This doesn’t apply to:
The Lake Tahoe property continues to be 100% managed by a property-management company. It feels amazing not to have to do anything. I can't wait to bring up my boy this coming winter to play in the snow! I could go up this winter, but I want him to be able to walk and run comfortably before he goes. I've been dreaming of this moment for over 10 years now. The income from the property is highly dependent on how much it snows. Summer income is always very strong.
Being able to generate passive income largely depends on your audience, and if they detect that you care more about making money than serving them, you won’t succeed. “Whenever I’ve seen people do something just for the money, they’ve failed because their intentions aren’t driving them in the right direction. It should always be about helping people and about the passion of making others feel better. The byproduct of doing that is generating money,” says Flynn.
Investing in coins and collectibles: Buffalo nickels and Spiderman comic books are good examples of coins and collectibles that can rise in value, and thus offer opportunity for passive income investors. You'll need to get up to speed on the value of any coin or collectible under consideration, but once you do so, you're on the way to price appreciation on a commodity you'll be paying a lower price to buy, and will garner a higher price when you sell.
Start an affiliate marketing website: This passive income model works for individuals who already own a bog or website. Here, your business goal is to contact companies and offer to tout their products and services, usually for a fee or a commission, based on the number of page views you get. Studies show that more people spend time online and less watching TV or reading the newspaper. Take advantage of that leverage and earn income from the tens of thousands of companies who want to reach an audience - maybe your audience. Either reach out to companies directly or go through a site like ClickBank, which offers affiliate marketing opportunities.
A former passive activity is an activity that was a passive activity in any earlier tax year, but isn’t a passive activity in the current tax year. You can deduct a prior year's unallowed loss from the activity up to the amount of your current year net income from the activity. Treat any remaining prior year unallowed loss like you treat any other passive loss.
Another thing that belongs firmly at the top of passive income ideas lists is affiliate marketing, where you earn a commission for each product or service that you recommend. My new focus these days is on Amazon affiliate websites. The idea is that you talk about, or review products that you can find on Amazon. People visit your website, click on some of your Amazon affiliate links, buy a product on Amazon and you get a commission for any sales, not only for that specific product but for anything they buy within a 24-hour period.

Passive income is earnings derived from a rental property, limited partnership or other enterprise in which a person is not actively involved. As with active income, passive income is usually taxable. However, it is often treated differently by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Portfolio income is considered passive income by some analysts, so dividends and interest would therefore be considered passive.
3. Travel Resulting From Rental Activity: Far too many passive income investors are not aware of the tax deductions that extend beyond the physical upkeep of a property. Having said that, it is entirely possible to deduct the amount of money you spend traveling for the sake of running and maintaining the property. Anywhere you drive for the sake of the rental, which includes visits to the property itself, can mount to travel expenses. Most notably, you can deduct the actual expenses incurred while traveling (gas, upkeep, repairs, etc). To clarify, travel expenses must be common, helpful, appropriate for your rental activity and — above all else — be solely for rental activities. Much like the repairs made on a property, deductions resulting from travel costs must be made in the same year they were incurred.
If a passive activity interest is transferred because the owner dies, unused passive activity losses are allowed (to a certain extent) as a deduction against the decedent's income in the year of death. The decedent's losses are allowed only to the extent they exceed the amount by which the transferee's basis in the passive activity has been increased under the rules for determining the basis of property acquired from a decedent. For example, if the basis of an interest in a passive activity in the hands of a transferee is increased by $6,000 and unused passive activity losses of $8,000 were allocable to the interest at the date of death, then the decedent's deduction for the tax year would be limited to $2,000 ($8,000 − $6,000).
Kate, a single taxpayer, has $70,000 in wages, $15,000 income from a limited partnership, a $26,000 loss from rental real estate activities in which she actively participated, and isn’t subject to the modified adjusted gross income phaseout rule. She can use $15,000 of her $26,000 loss to offset her $15,000 passive income from the partnership. She actively participated in her rental real estate activities, so she can use the remaining $11,000 rental real estate loss to offset $11,000 of her nonpassive income (wages).
“There is no such thing as 100% passive income,” says Flynn. “Even with real estate you still have to manage your properties, or even with the stock market, which is potentially passive income, you still have to manage your portfolio. With online business, there is no such thing as 100% passive income — and this is coming from a guy with a blog called SmartPassiveIncome.com. The definition of passive income is ‘building these businesses of automation,’ but in order to keep them automated and keep that trust going with your audience on top of that, you do have to keep it up every once in a while — so a lot of time upfront and a little time after. But there is alway time involved.”
It may also be possible to stagger dispositions of investments between calendar years. For example, if there will already be more than $150,000 of AAII in one year, consider triggering additional capital gains in that year, rather than the next, if that might reduce AAII below the threshold in the next year. Conversely, you may wish to trigger capital gains or losses in a specific year because capital losses cannot be carried forward to a future year for purposes of reducing AAII. As a result, you may wish to realize capital losses and gains in the same taxation year.
If your passive activity gross income from significant participation passive activities (defined later) for the tax year is more than your passive activity deductions from those activities for the tax year, those activities shall be treated, solely for purposes of figuring your loss from the activity, as a single activity that doesn’t have a loss for such taxable year. See Significant Participation Passive Activities , later.

This can be a little easier said than done, but if you have a large social media following, you can definitely earn money promoting a product or advertising for a company. You can even combine this with different marketing campaigns if you are an influencer and have your own blog (advertisement + affiliate income). This is how many bloggers make money! Again, it is not 100% passive but once set up correctly and then scaled, can be surprisingly lucrative.
In order not to succumb to that, Flynn says it’s important to know your motivation. “Passive income is important to me not just for the financial security but so I can spend time with my family,” he says. “I’ve been able to work from home and witness all my kids’ firsts. I have a one-year-old and a four-year-old, and that's what drives me and gets me pushing through those hard times and why I keep creating new products and why I want to help other people do the same thing.”
Any passive activity losses (but not credits) that haven’t been allowed (including current year losses) generally are allowed in full in the tax year you dispose of your entire interest in the passive (or former passive) activity. However, for the losses to be allowed, you must dispose of your entire interest in the activity in a transaction in which all realized gain or loss is recognized. Also, the person acquiring the interest from you must not be related to you.
In June, he put ads on his site with Google Adsense, and within the first hour, earned $1.08 with three clicks. He earned $5 the first day, $7 the second, and then eventually began pulling in $15-$30 a day. In October, he created an ebook exam study guide priced at $19.99. By month’s end, he earned $7,906.55 — more than he had ever previously earned in a month.
The government has announced its intention to introduce legislation that will reduce the SBD limit by $5 for every $1 of investment income above a $50,000 threshold, beginning in 2019. Once passive investment income exceeds $150,000, the SBD limit will be reduced to zero and the CCPC will pay tax at the general corporate tax rate of 26.5% as opposed to the 13.5% SBD Rate (for Ontario CCPCs).
What's crazy is that my book income is more than my SF condo-rental income. Yet I didn't have to come up with $1.2 million of capital (the minimum cost to buy my condo today) to create my book. All I needed to create my book was energy, effort, and creativity. I truly believe that developing your own online product is one of the best ways to make money.
Passive income is income you can earn without actually exerting yourself in a job. The idea of passive income rose in the early 1900s with the rise of income investing. Back then, Americans didn’t have the social protections they enjoy now (social security and Medicare for example). You may take your retirement plan for granted, but before these policies were enacted, the majority of the elderly working class lived in poverty.

Active participation isn’t the same as material participation (defined later). Active participation is a less stringent standard than material participation. For example, you may be treated as actively participating if you make management decisions in a significant and bona fide sense. Management decisions that count as active participation include approving new tenants, deciding on rental terms, approving expenditures, and similar decisions.


Do you know of a successful business that needs capital for expansion? If so, you can become something of a small-time angel investor and provide that needed capital. But rather than offering a loan to a business owner, you instead take an equity position in the business. In this way, the business owner will handle the day-to-day operations, while you will act as a silent partner who also participates in the profits of the business.


Are you doing it just for the money?  It has been my experience, and that of many others, if your reasons for, well, doing almost anything, are genuine, that it will be evident in all that you do.  If you are looking to generate passive income, then do so from a place of wanting to help people.  To improve people’s lives.  If you have a passion and desire to help people realize their hopes, dreams and goals, you almost certainly will make money doing it.
Pursuing passive income can be the right move for you, especially if you just need some extra cash to pay off debts. It’s important, though, that you find the right side hustle for you and your lifestyle. There’s no point in creating passive income if it’s not passive at all. Decide how much time and money you have to spare. Then choose the passive income venture that will prove most worthwhile.

Dividends made sense 40 years ago as a relatively simple rule of thumb, but after all the work done by John Bogle with index investing, and academics with Monte Carlo sims and the 4% rule, dividend investing just isn’t the simplest, cleanest way to invest or receive passive income anymore. It’s actually significantly more risky compared to index investing, because dividend companies are a much smaller share of the total global economy compared to the broader indices.
Finally, I imagine the biggest debate with my ranking is Creating Your Own Product as the #1 passive income source. If most people have never created their own product, then it’s easy to give it a thumbs down. There won’t be much complaint about Private Equity Investing being in last place because most people are not accredited investors. But given I believe that plenty of people can create their own product if they try, pushback is inevitable because a lot of people simply don’t try!
Employees and self-employed people have to pay federal income tax on earnings related to work, but the government also imposes income tax on various sources of passive income. Passive income or unearned income describes income that does not require active work, such as interest credited to savings accounts and investment income. The federal income tax rate on unearned income varies from one type of passive income to another. Note that the tax rate for passive income will differ for the 2018 tax year, as the new tax bill signed in December, 2017 changes some of these provisions.

I’ve never invested in real estate (except to live in), but am always intrigued by communities like FS who seem to have such a passion for it. My intrigue stems back to my earlier comments that the long term trends in appreciation in real estate are simply not very competitive versus equities, despite what Robert Kiyosaki had to say in his book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad.
Another common way to earn passive income is to invest in real estate. This does involve some hefty investment on your part to get started, though, since real estate doesn’t come cheap. The goal is to earn enough back by renting out the property to not only cover your original investment, but to also turn a profit. Keep in mind that similar to letting your room through Airbnb, this venture may require some time and money to maintain. Plus, you will have to rely on others and tenants to keep the property in good shape.
You’re personally liable for a mortgage, but you separately obtain insurance to compensate you for any payments you must actually make because of your personal liability. You’re considered at risk only to the extent of the uninsured portion of the personal liability to which you’re exposed. You can include in the amount you have at risk the amount of any premium which you paid from your personal assets for the insurance. However, if you obtain casualty insurance or insurance protecting yourself against tort liability, it doesn’t affect the amount you are otherwise considered to have at risk.

If all or any part of your loss from an activity is disallowed under Allocation of disallowed passive activity loss among activities for the tax year, a ratable portion of each of your passive activity deductions (defined later), other than an excluded deduction (defined below) from such activity is disallowed. The ratable portion of a passive activity deduction is the amount of the disallowed portion of the loss from the activity for the tax year multiplied by the fraction obtained by dividing:

The ideas that follow are not truly “passive income,” in that they require a significant amount of effort. However, I’m defining the term loosely and considering anything where one hour of work does not equal one hour of pay as passive income. The idea is that you put the work in up-front and then reap the benefits down the road. Read on for my top 10 passive income ideas!
Nobody gets early FI investing in bonds, CD’s, or even stocks unless they make a huge income or are extremely frugal or a combination of both. Paper assets just don’t provide enough returns. Business income can be great but it is typically not as semi-passive as I would like and there is a relatively high failure rate. That is if you can monetize an ideal to begin with. RE investing needs to be higher ranked IMO as a way that the “average guy” can become FI.
If you qualified as a real estate professional for 2017, report income or losses from rental real estate activities in which you materially participated as nonpassive income or losses, and complete line 43 of Schedule E (Form 1040). If you also have an unallowed loss from these activities from an earlier year when you didn’t qualify, see Treatment of former passive activities under Passive Activities, earlier.

Craig W. Smalley, MST, EA, has been in practice since 1994. He has been admitted to practice before the IRS as an enrolled agent and has a master's in taxation. He is well-versed in US tax law and US Tax Court cases. He specializes in taxation, entity structuring and restructuring, corporations, partnerships, and individual taxation, as well as representation before the IRS regarding negotiations, audits, and appeals. In his many years of practice, he has been exposed to a variety of businesses and has an excellent knowledge of most industries. He is the CEO and co-founder of CWSEAPA PLLC and Tax Crisis Center LLC; both business have locations in Florida, Delaware, and Nevada. Craig is the current Google small business accounting advisor for the Google Small Business Community. He is a contributor to AccountingWEB and Accounting Today, and has had 12 books published on various topics in taxation. His articles have also been featured in the Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, and several other newspapers, periodicals, and magazines. He has been interviewed and been a featured guest on many radio shows and podcasts. Finally, he is the co-host of Tax Avoidance is Legal, which is a nationally broadcast weekly Internet radio show.


Generally, any gain or loss on the disposition of a partnership interest must be allocated to each trade or business, rental, or investment activity in which the partnership owns an interest. If you dispose of your entire interest in a partnership, the passive activity losses from the partnership that haven’t been allowed generally are allowed in full. They also will be allowed if the partnership (other than a PTP) disposes of all the property used in that passive activity.
But how exactly can you generate passive income? Some methods for earning passive income require very little work on your part. Investing, whether in the stock market or with a bank, is the best way to make your money grow with very little ongoing effort. It just takes a different type of discipline – the discipline to spend less than you make and resist investment decisions based on emotions.
Leveraging the internet to create, connect, and sell is something every creative person should attempt to do. The only risk is lost time and a wounded ego. You can start a site like mine for as little as $2.95 a month with Bluehost and go from there. They give you a free domain name for a year. Forget all the add-ons. Not a day goes by that I’m not grateful for my site.
You could also make some passive income with medium involvement by investing in dividend stocks. This means you buy stocks that pay out dividends. You’ll have to do your research to find the best dividend stocks. That way, you can ensure that your dividend payouts will last for a while. Similarly, you could simply open a high yield savings account or build a CD ladder. Again, you’ll have to do your research to find the right ones and keep an eye on the accounts to make it a successful source of income.
If you are not a real estate professional but oversee your rental real estate, your revenue qualifies as a different type of passive income and you might be able to claim a portion of any losses against active income. As of the 2018 tax season, you can write off up to $25,000 a year in rental real estate losses if your Adjusted Gross Income is $100,000 or less. If your AGI is over the threshold, the size of the loss you can claim goes down by 50 cents for every dollar of income. At an AGI of $150,000, you no longer can take the passive loss against other income.
All ideas take some amount of time and money to come to fruition. Some people have a lot of one of these, but not much of the other. A lot of successful ideas have started when one person had the resources that another did not. And many businesses have been started using 0% loans from credit cards to fund their concept and keep the business going until it achieved success.
However, while most are familiar with the concept of a passive income rental property, few are actually aware of just how good of an investment they can be. Of course the right property will attract tenants with monthly cash flow, but it is important to note that the benefits of a rental property extend far beyond that of the capital they bring in. In fact, you could argue that the cash flow is an added bonus, coming in a close second to tax benefits. For what it’s worth, the tax benefits associated with a passive income property can very well be the most attractive asset sought out by landlords.
This is why we can retire in our 40s. we currently have four streams of income (my salary, husband salary, husband pension and our passive portfolio income which is outside of all our employer retirement accounts). our passive portfolio income is surpassed what most people are aiming for their retirement portfolios. And we don’t sell anything…this is just our dividend income annually. Passive income is the key to flexibility. No employer necessary.

If all or any part of your loss from an activity is disallowed under Allocation of disallowed passive activity loss among activities for the tax year, a ratable portion of each of your passive activity deductions (defined later), other than an excluded deduction (defined below) from such activity is disallowed. The ratable portion of a passive activity deduction is the amount of the disallowed portion of the loss from the activity for the tax year multiplied by the fraction obtained by dividing:


For those of you who don’t want to come up with a $220,000 downpayment and a $900,000 mortgage to buy the median home in SF or NYC, who don’t want to deal with tenants or remodeling, and who wants to not do any work after the investment is made, check out Fundrise. They are my favorite real estate crowdsourcing company founded in 2012 and based in Washington DC. They are pioneers in the eREIT product offering and they’re raising an Opportunity Fund to take advantage of new tax favorable laws.


I knew I didn't want to work 70 hours a week in finance forever. My body was breaking down, and I was constantly stressed. As a result, I started saving every other paycheck and 100% of my bonus since my first year out of college in 1999. By the time 2012 rolled around, I was earning enough passive income (about $78,000) to negotiate a severance and be free.
Unearned income is not subject to payroll taxes. This is good news! However unearned income sources are included in your calculation of Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) for federal income tax purposes. You can find your AGI on line 37 of your 1040 tax form. Most unearned income such as interest income from CDs or savings accounts, IRA withdrawals, and pension payments are taxed at your marginal tax rate. However, certain types of unearned income, such as capital gains and qualified dividends are taxed at a lower rate.

The same analysis would apply to a situation where a CCPC carrying on a real estate property realizes a capital gain upon the sale of one of its rental properties. The RDTOH generated from the capital gain, would now be refunded to the corporation only upon the payment of a dividend that is not an Eligible Dividend sourced from the passive income. As a result, the additional 4% personal income tax cannot be postponed at the individual level while having at the same time the corporation benefit from the RDTOH refund.
Thanks for writing this Mr. Samurai. I just got over the student loan hump but I feel pretty good about it at 27 having a graduate degree and being 100% debt free. Now that I’m on the other side it is good for my brain to absorb some of your knowledge regarding passive income investments. I love gleaning wisdom from older folks who have been there and done that. Mentors rock!
This publication discusses two sets of rules that may limit the amount of your deductible loss from a trade, business, rental, or other income-producing activity. The first part of the publication discusses the passive activity rules. The second part discusses the at-risk rules. However, when you figure your allowable losses from any activity, you must apply the at-risk rules before the passive activity rules.
When I purchase an existing online business, I look for cash flow over the past year and where the money comes from. I want the sources to be more passive so that it does not take a lot of my time. Also, typically I will make an offer that is 18 – 24 months of profit so that I know that I will get my money back within the next two years. I hope that helps!
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