Passive income, in a nutshell, is money that flows in on a regular basis without requiring a substantial amount of effort to create it. The idea is that you make an upfront investment time and/or money but once the ball is rolling, there's minimal maintenance required going forward. That being said, not all passive income opportunities are created equally. For investors, building a solid portfolio means knowing which passive investing strategies to pursue.
To the uninformed, these varying tax rates initially look unfair. What many people don’t understand is the big difference between “ordinary income” (from wages, a salary, short-term capital gains and interest) and “passive income” (from stock dividends and long-term capital gains). The federal government taxes ordinary income at up to 35 percent and passive income at 15 percent.
Another way to generate passive income is to invest and be a silent partner in a business. This is very risky, but with risk comes the potential for high returns. For example, several years ago both Lyft and Uber were looking for private investors to invest in their companies. Today, they are worth billions - but you as an investor would only reap that benefit if they go public via an IPO, or get acquired. So, it's risky.
The real value of a building lies in the tenant. If you’re the tenant and you’re a good tenant, you might as well be the owner, otherwise, you’re giving that benefit away to someone else. A few years back we bought most of our buildings from other owners after renting from them for many years. Our approach to the building owners was, “We want to own our own offices, we are willing to pay you a fair price for the building, but if you won’t sell, we’ll buy somewhere else and move. 4/5 sold to us, the one that wouldn’t sell, we decided to buy a new office building and moved. Owning your own office is typically a very safe and very good investment if bought at a fair market value and assuming you are planning on staying put at least 5+ years. If you are trying to buy the office from your current landlord, I think a fair price is somewhere between the value of a vacant office building and the value of a stable physician occupied office with a long-term lease.
Dan Caplinger has been a contract writer for the Motley Fool since 2006. As the Fool's Director of Investment Planning, Dan oversees much of the personal-finance and investment-planning content published daily on Fool.com. With a background as an estate-planning attorney and independent financial consultant, Dan's articles are based on more than 20 years of experience from all angles of the financial world. Follow @DanCaplinger
A Risk Score of 10 means no risk. A Return Score of 1 means the returns are horrible compared to the risk-free rate. A Feasibility score of 10 means everybody can do it. A Liquidity Score of 1 means it’s very difficult to withdraw your money without a massive penalty. An Activity Score of 10 means you can kick back and do nothing to earn income. To make the ranking as realistic as possible, every score is relative to each other. Furthermore, the return criteria is based off trying to generate $10,000 a year in passive income.
Role of “real estate professional” can be well played by a non-working or stay-at-home spouse. If you’ve got one who’s willing of course. 🙂 Under current tax law, with a spouse/real estate professional materially participating in the rental property activities, the 3.8% Medicare tax (discussed in Section 1) can be entirely avoided. So, while there is a bit of burden in meeting the requirements, this could be a great play for a Doc and a real estate professional spouse who want to take unlimited real estate losses against regular earned income AND shelter any gains from the additional 3.8% tax.
When withdrawing money to live on, I don’t care how many stock shares I own or what the dividends are – I care about how much MONEY I’m able to safely withdraw from my total portfolio without running out before I die. A lot of academics have analyzed total market returns based on indices and done Monte Carlo simulations of portfolios with various asset allocations, and have come up with percentages that you can have reasonable statistical confidence of being safe.

Deductions or losses from passive activities are limited. You generally can’t offset income, other than passive income, with losses from passive activities. Nor can you offset taxes on income, other than passive income, with credits resulting from passive activities. Any excess loss or credit is carried forward to the next tax year. Exceptions to the rules for figuring passive activity limits for personal use of a dwelling unit and for rental real estate with active participation are discussed later.

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.
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