One side note worth highlighting here – it is a common misconception that passive investment income earned within a corporation can be taxed at the lower small business tax rate. This is incorrect as passive income is generally taxed at about the same rate (over 50%), whether earned inside or outside a corporation, so there is no real benefit, per se, from earning investment income in a corporation. Rather, the advantage is that the corporate entrepreneur is able to temporarily invest the amount of taxes deferred by delaying the withdrawal of funds from his/her company.

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.


There’s stock and then there’s blue-chip stock. In poker, the blue chips are the most expensive. In the stock market, blue-chip stocks are considered more valuable and less risky than lower-priced stocks. These stocks belong to well-known companies like Facebook, Google, Johnson & Johnson, and so on. Due to the massive success of these corporations, they pay shareholders lucrative dividends. A single blue-chip stock can cost well over $500. If you can find the money, the quarterly or annual dividend payments would amount to generous passive income you can rely on. Though these stocks are considered more lucrative, all investments involve risk. Lehman Brothers’ stock was solidly blue- chip until the financial crises tanked the company. Keep that in mind when investing in this type of stock.  There are no guarantees in the stock market – only educated guesses.

The reality of the situation is that this client doesn’t use a property management company on the rentals. I felt it was stretch to say she was a real estate professional, because she is a physician.  However, before she got her job with the clinic, she did some side work at a hospital for a few months, but never met the limits of material or active participation.  
Because passive investors’ rentals are viewed as secondary income, they can only deduct the normal costs associated with their rental properties. They cannot deduct any home office expenses and are limited on how much they can deduct from any losses they might incur. As of 2010, you can only deduct up to $3,000 from your other active income like your job or employment.
If the amount you had at risk in an activity at the end of your tax year that began in 1978 was less than zero, you apply the preceding rule for the recapture of losses by substituting that negative amount for zero. For example, if your at-risk amount for that tax year was minus $50, you will recapture losses only when your at-risk amount goes below minus $50.
Any loss that’s allowable in a particular year reduces your at-risk investment (but not below zero) as of the beginning of the next tax year and in all succeeding tax years for that activity. If you have a loss that’s more than your at-risk amount, the loss disallowed won’t be allowed in later years unless you increase your at-risk amount. Losses that are suspended because they’re greater than your investment that’s at risk are treated as a deduction for the activity in the following year. Consequently, if your amount at risk increases in later years, you may deduct previously suspended losses to the extent that the increases in your amount at risk exceed your losses in later years. However, your deduction of suspended losses may be limited by the passive loss rules.

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The average period of customer use of the property is 7 days or less. You figure the average period of customer use by dividing the total number of days in all rental periods by the number of rentals during the tax year. If the activity involves renting more than one class of property, multiply the average period of customer use of each class by a fraction. The numerator of the fraction is the gross rental income from that class of property and the denominator is the activity's total gross rental income. The activity's average period of customer use will equal the sum of the amounts for each class.
Making legitimate passive income isn’t as difficult as you might think. Some of the best passive income ideas might take a little time to set up but can start cash flowing within a couple of months and will provide a consistent monthly income for years or more. The most important point is just to get started. You make exactly $0 on the passive income sources you never start.
A planning opportunity may be available by converting a primary residence into rental real estate.  For example, Mary purchases a condo in 2010 and in 2013 decides to upgrade into a single family home.  She rents out the condo to earn some money.  Due to recent developments in the area, the condo is now worth much more and she sells it for a gain of $100,000.  Since Mary lived in the home for 2 out of the past 5 years, the entire gain is excluded from income.  The 2 year rule can occur anytime during the 5 year period and does not have to be consecutive.  Keep in mind though that if you do the opposite and convert rental property to a primary residence, the rules are more complex and the gain exclusion tends to be limited.
In the Tax Court Case of  Stephen P. Hardy, et ux. v. Commissioner, TC Memo 2017-16.  Dr. Stephen P. Hardy is a plastic surgeon who has specialized in pediatric reconstructive surgery since the early nineties. He conducted his medical practice through Northwest Plastic Surgery Associates, which is a single member PLLC. Mrs. Hardy is the chief operating officer. Previously, Dr. Hardy performed operations either at his office or at two local hospitals.
The IRS gives more specific limitations as to what it means by “material” participation. For one, it includes if you worked at least 500 hours in a year on the project or more than 100 hours when no one else works more than you. Additionally, if you do at least almost all of the work in an activity, it’s considered material involvement. Even the combination of your work in multiple significant participation activities (SPAs), if it exceeds 500 hours, counts as material participation. There are a few more criteria that would qualify a project as material. You only need to meet one to qualify.
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.

I truly believe generating $10,000 a year online can be done by anybody who is willing to dedicate at least two years to their online endeavors. Here is a snapshot of what a real blogger makes through his website and because of his website. Roughly $150,000 a year is semi-passive income followed by another $186,000 a year in active income found through his site. Check out my guide on how to start your own blog here.
If you love design and you are an artistic person, selling digital products on Etsy could be a great way to earn passive income. Digital products require little maintenance, your customers will simply receive a link to download them (which means you don’t have to worry about shipping and returns handling). All you need to do is spend time upfront to create beautiful artwork! (Easy right?)

What about getting hit with AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax) in cases your passive income / capital gains are too high? I’m not that familiar with the details of AMT, but I got hit with AMT one time due to an “exercise and hold” of ISOs (stock options). My CPA explained it’s another method of calculating my tax liability, and in cases I gain too much capital gains, the IRS may treat and tax them as ordinary income.
Real estate rental income is one of the best passive income opportunities I’ve taken advantage of. When you buy a rental property, you are buying a home, apartment building or commercial building, then renting it out to someone who cannot afford to buy it themselves. It is a win-win for everyone. They get a nice place for a reasonable price and you get a property that is being paid for by the tenant.
It is helpful to have an understanding of the bigger tax items – basis and depreciation.  Basis is the cost or purchase price of the property minus the value of the land (note: you cannot depreciate land).  The depreciation deduction you can take on residential real estate per year is the basis (cost less land) divided by 27.5.  Depreciation is a great tax deduction you can take every year but will affect your gain or loss when you sell the property.
I just wanted to say how nice it is to see such a positive exchange between strangers on the Internet. Seriously, not only was this article (list) motivating and well-drafted, the tiny little community of readers truly were a pleasant crescendo I found to be the cause of an inward smile. Thank you, everyone, and good luck to you all with your passive income efforts!! 🙂
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