We’ve discussed how to get started building passive income for financial freedom in a previous post. Now I’d like to rank the various passive income streams based on risk, return, and feasibility. The rankings are somewhat subjective, but they are born from my own real life experiences attempting to generate multiple types of passive income sources over the past 16 years.
Consider withdrawing sufficient corporate funds to maximize your RRSP and TFSA contributions, rather than leaving the funds inside the corporation for investment. Given sufficient time, RRSP and TFSA investing would generally outperform corporate investing when earnings come from interest, eligible dividends, annual capital gains, or a balanced portfolio. And removing funds that would otherwise be invested within the corporation could reduce future AAII.
In general, the purpose of the passive activity rules is to prevent taxpayers from improperly claiming immediate tax losses on investments. Instead, the IRS wants to limit loss deductions to those businesses where taxpayers were integrally involved with the operation or management of the business. In conjunction with other rules that limit losses to the amount of money that an investor puts at risk, the end result of the passive activity rules is to encourage taxpayers to engage in profitable passive activities in order to wipe out any passive activity losses they might incur.
If you need cash flow, and the dividend doesn’t meet your needs, sell a little appreciated stock. (or keep a CD ladder rolling and leave your stock alone). At the risk of repeating myself, whether you take cash out of your portfolio in the form of “rent”, dividend, interest, cap gain, laddered CD…., etc. The arithmetic doesn’t change. You are still taking cash out of your portfolio. I’m just pointing out that we shouldn’t let the tail wag the dog. IOW, the primary goal is to grow the long term value of your portfolio, after tax. Period. All other goals are secondary.

You could also do this by charging for financial plans and managing people’s investments.  The fee’s you charged would be recurring as long as you managed the relationship to keep them happy.  This approach to passive income has a much higher barrier to entry due to needing qualifications, licenses, and building relationships over time.  If done correctly, it can be a very lucrative source of passive income.


For purposes of item (1), above, an item of deduction arises in the taxable year in which the item would be allowable as a deduction under the taxpayer's method of accounting if taxable income for all taxable years were determined without regard to the passive activity rules and without regard to the basis, excess farm loss, and at-risk limits. See Coordination with other limitations on deductions that apply before the passive activity rules , later.
Obviously, these are much higher than you’re going to get with most other investments. What’s more is that you can choose a plan that matches your investment strategy, whether your goal is Supplemental Income, Balanced Investing, or Long-term Growth. You can also look at different real estate projects and choose for yourself which ones to invest in.

According to NOLO, “the home office deduction is available only if you are running a bona fide business.” That means any work dedicated to your passive income property from the confines of your own home can’t be a hobby. “If the IRS decides that you are indulging a hobby rather than trying to earn a profit, it won’t let you take the home office deduction.”
If you are a photographer looking to diversify your income stream, putting together styled stock photo packages can be lucrative. For example, a package of 15 wedding-themed stock photos for $10. You can then market this to any bloggers or businesses who are in the wedding business for their use (photos of different engagement rings styles are super popular). Through this method, it’s possible to make a continuous stream of income off of photos you’ve taken once (similar to a licensing deal).

Real estate investors don’t get to enjoy that lower qualified dividends rate on their passive income, but they get something almost as good- depreciation. Now I’m of the school of thought that you get to take depreciation mostly because buildings and appliances really do depreciate, but even so, it gets pretty favorable tax treatment, particularly for a high earner. Depreciating your property allows you to defer taxes on them until you sell the property and the depreciation is recaptured. That deferral by itself is very useful, particularly if it allows you to defer it until such a time as you are in a lower bracket. You can also avoid that recapture completely by doing 1031 exchanges from one property to another until the owner dies and gets that step-up in basis at death. But wait, there’s more. That recapture tax rate maxes out at 25%, even if you’re in the 39.6% tax bracket.
Ask yourself how many hours a week do you spend sitting in silence, coming up with an idea and working on your idea? We’re so busy with our jobs that our childhood creativity sadly vanishes at some point in our lives. There are food bloggers who clear over $15,000 a month. There are lifestyle bloggers who make over $10,000 a month while living in Thailand. And there are even personal finance bloggers who’ve sold their sites for multi-millions.
Good suggestions. I have many of these. One word about the “app” idea. I had a great idea related to personal taxes that I tried to get off the ground with my accountant as a partner. I would say it’s difficult to do this unless you have a coder on your team. Hiring someone is not really viable financially unless the app is simple. When we finally got the quote for a coder to write what we wanted (and after doing lots of mock ups ourselves and getting a demo for investors) the estimate was about 750k just to really get started.
Finance was concerned that notwithstanding protective provisions in the law to safe guard against this tax deferral, professionals and other groups were using corporations exclusively for the purposes of gaining this benefit. This platform of concern for politically correct fairness and equity however did not address the fact that the after-tax profits of a corporation distributed to the individual are subject to a second layer of tax when the individual is paid a dividend from the company. As such, when Ms. Shareholder ultimately receives a dividend from the CCPC of its retained earnings, she will have paid a combined corporate and personal tax of approximately 56%, which is about 3 points higher than the top marginal rate applicable to individuals. The objective of the second layer of tax is to achieve what historically was called the principle of integration.
I am a Certified Financial Planner®¹ and am the founder of Intrepid Wealth Partners. I work with entrepreneurs from startup through exit on financial planning to realize their hopes, dreams & goals. I am an avid world traveler, certified as a Dive Master in SCUBA, have been skydiving, and love meeting new people. Follow us on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn.
For one thing, there are fewer barriers to entry compared to other types of investments. For example, both Prosper and Lending Club, two of the largest P2P platforms, allow investors to fund loans with as little as a $25 investment. Both lenders also open their doors to non-accredited investors. While Title III of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act allows both accredited and non-accredited investors to invest through crowdfunding, every crowdfunding platform has its own policy regarding who can participate.

My esteemed marketing colleagues initially balked at the idea of creating products that generate royalties, so I can understand how creating something from nothing might be daunting for those who aren’t even in creative roles. However, realize there is this enormous world out there of photographers, bloggers, artists, and podcasters who are making a passive income thanks to the Internet.


If you rent property to a trade or business activity in which you materially participated, net rental income from the property is treated as nonpassive income. This rule doesn’t apply to net income from renting property under a written binding contract entered into before February 19, 1988. It also doesn’t apply to property described earlier under Rental of Property Incidental to a Development Activity .

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.
Let me disabuse you of that notion right now: making money online is not so easy and you actually have to know what you’re doing. 10 years ago when self-publishing was booming and affiliate marketing was in its infancy, you could get rich with some sketchiness. Those days are long gone now. Self-publishing has matured and it’s far, far harder to propel your way up the all-important rankings. Google has come down hard on the spam and if there’s any hint of that on your websites, you’ll get penalized which means no search engine traffic sent your way. This is the death of the Internet marketer.
The Digital Reflection Panel is a rewards program that tracks characteristics about your internet usage. You can quickly earn $50 your first month and a minimum of $170 your first year. Since you receive the installation bonus only once, you will earn $120 each subsequent year. Not only that, but every 3 consecutive months you’re enrolled in the program you get a bonus.
Self-publishing belongs firmly at the top of any passive income ideas list. Amazon, with Kindle Direct Publishing (electronic version) and CreateSpace (print on demand version) dominates the self-publishing world. It’s both good and bad. Good in that they’re quite generous with their commission rates (usually 70%). Bad in that they can change their policies at any time to be less favourable for authors and there is nowhere else for us to go. That’s not entirely true. There are a few other options, but none of them are as good as Amazon!
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.
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.
YouTube is one of the most rapidly growing trends in 2018 and getting subscribers on YouTube is all the rage. You can create videos on any theme like opinions, comedy, love, tutorials, music etc. and put them on YouTube. Overlaying your video with Google AdSense will make you earn every time the ad is clicked. If you create YouTube videos for an education matter, you can repurpose these videos into an online course.
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:
To save time and effort, a person can group two or more of their passive activities into one larger activity, provided they form an "appropriate economic unit." When a taxpayer does this, instead of having to provide material participation in multiple activities, they only have to provide it for the activity as a whole. In addition, if a person includes multiple activities into one group and has to dispose of one of those activities, they’ve only done away with part of a larger activity as opposed to all of a smaller one. 
No matter what, if you own something, you will have to put some effort towards it, yes. Even if you are as hands-off as possible, you may need to use your brain occasionally. Although I would say with mine, I might have to use my brain for a total of a 30 minutes or less a year. The only thing I do for my properties are answer emails or calls from my property manager and give him approval to do random things. That doesn’t even happen that often though. The most ‘work’ I ever do on my properties, other than give approval for repairs, is stress if there is a vacancy or turnover or something. Stressing is pretty passive though. Oh, and I spend 20 minutes or less gathering any documents I have for my accountants come tax time.

I prefer assets that make me a high return for the lowest amount of work possible (semi-passive involvement). And assets that pay me in several unique ways. Cash flow is only one way RE makes money for me. I also get principal reductions, appreciation, tax advantages (depreciation), and I control the rental increases on a yearly basis. Plus a majority of the capital is provided by the secondary market on 30 year fixed low interest rate debt.
There’s a few different free routes you can take. You can release both a paid and free app and have your free app up-sell your paid app. This gives you visibility in both paid and free categories. More eyes could potentially mean more downloads and more revenue. The most popular route is the freemium version with in-app purchases. You give out the most essential functions of the app for free and up-sell your users to more features they might want. This usually converts better than up-selling to a paid app, since the user will never have to leave your app to make a purchase.
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:

In general, the purpose of the passive activity rules is to prevent taxpayers from improperly claiming immediate tax losses on investments. Instead, the IRS wants to limit loss deductions to those businesses where taxpayers were integrally involved with the operation or management of the business. In conjunction with other rules that limit losses to the amount of money that an investor puts at risk, the end result of the passive activity rules is to encourage taxpayers to engage in profitable passive activities in order to wipe out any passive activity losses they might incur.
Add Leverage (Mortgage) and you greatly increase the ROI especially from the perspective of using Rents (other peoples money) to pay down the mortgage and increase your equity in the property over time. At this point then yes price appreciation is secondary bonus and we have an arguement of how and why Real Estate can be better than Growth Stocks in some scenarios and for some investors.

We’ve discussed how to get started building passive income for financial freedom in a previous post. Now I’d like to rank the various passive income streams based on risk, return, and feasibility. The rankings are somewhat subjective, but they are born from my own real life experiences attempting to generate multiple types of passive income sources over the past 16 years.
Sharon, you missed my point completely. If you feel you need $8000/month to live the life you want, and you get that $8000/month through passive income, you may feel financially free for a few months. However, next year, you’re not going to be wanting $8000/month + 3% inflation; you’re going to be wanting $16,000/month. This is greed 101. It’s normal. It’s natural.
The PPACA Medicare tax is a dangerous tax IMHO. It is an entirely new kind of tax. It is small and in jeopardy of going away but I predict it won’t. If it goes away it won’t be for long and it will grow over time – like most taxes. 3.8% is a starting point. This one has the added political appeal of “taxing the rich” and “unearned income” that makes it more palatable to the electorate.
“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.”
Most people think about building a site to make money and passive income. But you actually can buy an existing website to make a passive income. I have many friends who don’t like to write and create content for their website, so they just pay people to do that for them. They only care about SEO, and they want it to be well ranked in Google. It’s entirely ok, but if you don’t want to be a website creator and entrepreneur, you can buy a website and manage it like a business.
In January 2018, I missed my chance of raising the rent on my new incoming tenants because it didn't come to mind until very late in the interview process. I didn't write about my previous tenant's sudden decision to move out in December 2017 after 1.5 years, because they provided a relatively seamless transition by introducing their longtime friends to replace them. I didn't miss a month of rent and didn't have to do any marketing, so I felt I'd just keep the rent the same.
I just can’t seem to get my head around creating my own online product. When you talk about it, you make it sound like its mostly just about putting in the time and plugging away at it. Problem is I can never seem to come up with any ideas for a site or product that seem remotely unique or compelling or that I have any special knowledge about. The stuff I do know about is pretty commodity type knowledge that can mostly be found on thousands of sites on the internet already. Any tips on discovering what your “unique angle” is? I mean, you have a pretty compelling and somewhat unique personal story of working on wall street and then walking away at a young age.
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.
But when so many turn down leasing one and one-half acre for one Wind Turbine for each 80 acres, that lease certainly does not materially affect the rest of the Farm or Ranch grazing pasture and the lease pays much more than the farm crow or grazing pasture lease, just because some lawyer said the lease was too long: 30 years plus 30 year option = 60 years, and the wind turbine company has selling production/electricity contracts for the next 150 years – which is needed to obtain financing!
In the case of an activity with respect to which any deductions or credits are disallowed for a taxable year (the loss activity), the disallowed deductions are allocated among your activities for the next tax year in a manner that reasonably reflects the extent to which each activity continues the loss activity. The disallowed deductions or credits allocated to an activity under the preceding sentence are treated as deductions or credits from the activity for the next tax year. For more information, see Regulations section 1.469-1(f)(4).
Those who don't meet this test can qualify for a limited $25,000 allowance for losses if they qualify as an active participant. Active participation requires only limited activities, such as approving new tenants, setting rental terms, and approving payouts. If you qualify, you can then take up to that limited amount of loss each year, carrying over any excess losses until you generate rental income to offset it.
The E-Commerce model is an interesting one. The idea is that you get products made cheaply (usually China) through a site like Alibaba, ship them to a warehouse (or your own house!), put the product description up on Amazon (or your own website), get some sales and then send out the product. There is a big learning curve with this one and you need some money up-front to get the products.
When I did her recent tax return she had $45,000 in passive losses from the rentals and $35,000 in income from her S-Corporation. I called her and found out how many hours she had only worked for three months in her S-Corp, which was less than 500/750 hours per year.  I changed the nature of the income from the S-Corporation to passive, thereby eating up the passive losses from the rental. 
The age old argument of total return versus income has been, incorrectly imo, categorized as an either or proposition. We are going to do both. Right now I have a lot cash in an on line money market. I also have investments in 2 passive Index funds in a taxable account. We then have substantial 401ks/IRA’s which we won’t touch for at least 10 years. My wife will continue to max out her sep and we will continue to invest in the index funds although with a smaller amount. We have already factored that in. I looked at how to cut into the monthly deficit. Here is what I observed.
My returns are based on full cash purchase of the properties, as it is hard to compare the attractiveness of properties at different price ranges when only calculating down payment or properties that need very little rehab/updates. I did think about the scores assigned to each factor, but I believe tax deductions are a SIGNIFICANT factor when comparing passive income steams.
Lending Club went public in 2014 and is now worth about $1.7B. They advertise P2P lending returns of over 7% for well-diversified portfolios of over 100 notes. I’ve personally been able to achieve a 7.4% annual return over the past two years in a completely passive way by investing in A and AA notes. Others have achieved a 10% annual return through relatively minimum effort.

This article dovetails nicely with your recent podcast “How to Get Rich Quick.” I would argue that you are not “inherently lazy.” My reasoning is that you are working at 1.5 FTE when you are F.I. I would confirm that once you have the real estate team in place, it is passive as you have suggested. The “work” with passive income comes at the beginning. Whether that be your book, website development, studying the real estate team, or learning finance. Lastly, I like Rockefeller’s quote on passive income. Perhaps you could add it to your quote bank. Here it is: “Do you know the only thing that gives me pleasure? It’s to see my dividends coming in.” There is no doubt, it is much easier to earn money on your money than work a job and earn money.
That’s a nice read! I love your many tangible ways mentioned to make passive income unlike certain people trying to recruit others by mentioning network marketing and trying to get them to join up and sell products like Amway, Avon, Mary Kay, Cutco or 5Linx. People get sucked into wealth and profits and become influenced joiners from the use pressure tactics.
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