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!
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!
The government’s concern with the accumulation of passive income-generating investments in private companies stems from the fact that CCPCs pay a blended federal and provincial small business tax rate of 13.5% (in Ontario) on active business income up to the small business deduction (SBD) limit of $500,000 in 2018. This compares favorably to the tax rates on income earned by individuals. On a combined federal and provincial basis, the differential between the highest marginal tax rate on personal income and the small business tax rate ranges between about 36% and 41%, depending on the province in which a CCPC resides.

If you qualify as a real estate professional, rental real estate activities in which you materially participated aren’t passive activities. For purposes of determining whether you materially participated in your rental real estate activities, each interest in rental real estate is a separate activity unless you elect to treat all your interests in rental real estate as one activity.
REITs provide an easy way to get real estate exposure in your portfolio but it is crucial that you avoid asset class overlap.  Since many stock and index funds include REIT companies, having a separate allocation to REITs in a portfolio may create double counting.  Certain fund managers strip out REIT companies from their equity investments to avoid this issue.  One example is Dimensional Fund Advisors.  For those who want real estate exposure without the hassle of being a landlord, purchasing REITs may be the way to go.
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The maximum special allowance of $25,000 ($12,500 for married individuals filing separate returns and living apart at all times during the year) is reduced by 50% of the amount of your modified adjusted gross income that’s more than $100,000 ($50,000 if you’re married filing separately). If your modified adjusted gross income is $150,000 or more ($75,000 or more if you’re married filing separately), you generally can’t use the special allowance. This is because the special allowance is reduced to $0 since the modified adjusted gross income is over the $100,000 amount.
Earned income is the money you earn from working. It includes wages, salaries, tips, and net earnings from self-employment income. It also includes union strike benefits and some types of long-term disability benefits. With some types of deferred compensation plans, the payments are also considered a form of earned income. Earned income is taxed differently than unearned income.

Given the growth in the sharing economy, your junk can start to pay for itself. For example, if you have some awesome vintage furniture inherited from your grandmother sitting in a storage unit, you can rent this out to photographers for their “styled shoots” which are becoming all the rage. If your furniture is more modern but you still can’t bear to get rid of it – perhaps a home stager will be interested.
Passive income bluntly is income that would continue to generate if you died. Morbid. How about this? Passive income is income that would continue to generate if you decided to do nothing and sunbathe on some beach. That sounds better. Passive income includes rental income, royalties and income from businesses or investment partnerships / multi-member LLCs where you do not materially participate.
While reading a very interesting book recently about the conquest of the Northwestern Territory (it’s Ohio, not Oregon for those of you who aren’t history buffs) I realized that the founding fathers of the US were all unabashed capitalists. Washington, Hamilton etc all held title to huge tracts of land West of the Appalachians that they had been speculating in for decades. Forming the US Army (a standing army was a big deal to a people who at the time equated a standing army with tyranny) and conquering the Iroquois was, in at least some respects, about profiting on their investments. While WCI readers probably don’t have any plans to conquer other nations, the real point of all this financial stuff we talk about on this blog is to turn yourself into a capitalist as quickly as possible. While capitalism has its issues, it’s still the best economic system we’ve found yet.
Active Income Investments: Flipping and wholesaling. You have to do work in order to see money from these. You have to be hands-on. Note: I do still stand by my argument that wholesaling is not actually an investment at all, but for the sake of so many people thinking it is, I am including it. Another note: It is possible, if you are really slick and good, that you could be decently hands-off for a flip. But that is long down the road of being an advanced flipper so for now, I’m leaving it here.
Real estate crowdsourcing allows you to surgically invest as little as $5,000 into a residential or commercial real estate project for potentially 8 – 15% annual returns based off historical data. Such returns are much better than the average private equity, CD, bond market, P2P lending, and dividend investing returns. With P2P lending, borrowers can sometimes default and leave you with nothing. At least with real estate crowdsource investing, there’s a physical asset that’s backing your investment.
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.
Our favorite platform for this is RealtyMogul because you get the flexibility to invest as little as $1,000, but can also participate in REITs and private placements – typically not offered to the public. Investors can fund real estate loans to gain passive income or buy an equity share in a property for potential appreciation. Their platform is open to both accredited and non-accredited investors.
The rental is incidental to a nonrental activity. The rental of property is incidental to an activity of holding property for investment if the main purpose of holding the property is to realize a gain from its appreciation and the gross rental income from the property is less than 2% of the smaller of the property's unadjusted basis or fair market value. The unadjusted basis of property is its cost not reduced by depreciation or any other basis adjustment. The rental of property is incidental to a trade or business activity if all of the following apply.
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.
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.
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.

The equipment leasing exclusion also isn’t available for leasing activities related to other at-risk activities, such as motion picture films and video tapes, farming, oil and gas properties, and geothermal deposits. For example, if a closely held corporation leases a video tape, it can’t exclude this leasing activity from the at-risk rules under the equipment leasing exclusion.
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The IRS issued a notice of deficiency for tax years 2008 through 2010. They disallowed the passive activity loss and tacked on a Section 6662(a) accuracy-related penalty. Hardy appealed for redetermination in a timely manner. He challenged the IRS's determination that he could not claim passive activity loss deductions against the income from MBJ and the accuracy-related penalties.
Truebill is an app that helps you save money by identifying recurring subscriptions and other bills and helping you cut costs by negotiating better rates and fees. One of their partnerships is with Acradia Power, which has the potential to save you up to 30% on your electric bill. It searches for better power rates in areas where competition is allowed, and it locks in the better prices for you.
Virtual assistants can do anything that doesn’t require a physical presence: Scheduling appointments, making calls, sending emails, creating and processing invoices and general project management can all be done virtually. And tasks beyond administrative work are possible, too: Virtual assistants can be trained for customer prospecting and other key business operations. In short, it’s worth learning how to use their talents to your benefit.
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.
If you inherited property from a decedent who died in 2010, special rules may apply if the executor of the estate files Form 8939, Allocation of Increase in Basis for Property Acquired From a Decedent. For more information, see Pub. 4895, Tax Treatment of Property Acquired from a Decedent Dying in 2010, which is available at IRS.gov/pub/irs-prior/p4895--2011.pdf.
For a closely held corporation, the passive activity loss is the excess of passive activity deductions over the sum of passive activity gross income and net active income. For details on net active income, see the Instructions for Form 8810. For the definition of passive activity gross income, see Passive Activity Income , later. For the definition of passive activity deductions, see Passive Activity Deductions , later.
Get Paid To Shop: The Shopkick app is a free mobile app that pays you walk into stores, link your credit card, scan barcodes in stores, shop online, refer friends and more. Convert points into gift cards and other cash prizes. This app makes shopping fun, and you even get a 250-point bonus when you sign-up as a new member. The best part? It's 100% FREE to join.
Many investors think that they need to quit their job to get started in real estate. Not true! Many investors successfully build large portfolios over the years while enjoying the stability of their full-time job. If that’s something you are interested in, then this investor’s story of how he built a real estate business while keeping his 9-5 might be helpful.
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.
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!
Another great aspect of passive income is that it is often completely scalable. Consider my book. If I sell 10 copies of it, I might get $100. If I sell 100 copies of it, I might get $1000. How much additional work did it take for me to sell those extra 90 books? Zero. And there’s nothing keeping me from selling 1,000 or even 10,000 copies of the book. A website is the same way. No limit on the eyeballs that can view it (as long as I keep upgrading the hosting plan!) Shares of stock are the same way. Owning 100,000 shares is no more work than owning 10 shares. If you’re a real estate investor, once you get your “system” in place (agent, insurance guy, attorney, accountant, property manager, repairman etc) it may not take you much more work at all to own ten properties than to own one. Maybe you do speaking gigs and charge $50 a head. Is it any more work to speak to 500 instead of 50? Not really. Leveraging your money is great, but leveraging your time through scalability is even better.

As a matter of background, Finance wanted to address the alleged tax loophole benefit of using a CCPC for retaining income to simply build investment portfolios not used in the business. To illustrate this benefit, let’s assume that Ms. Shareholder owns all the shares of a CCPC. That CCPC employs a large group to manage real estate property and earns $100 of what the tax law perceives as active income. The earnings for the corporation would be subject to a combined federal and Quebec income tax rate of 26.7% (assuming the small business deduction is not applicable in this instance). If in place of the CCPC, the same individual hired employees herself, the $100 of active income she would earn would be subject to a combined federal and Quebec personal top marginal rate of 53.53%. This difference in tax rates provides the corporation with approximately $26.83 of tax deferral than that earned by the individual.

Jim Smith and Sharon Jones own JS Toys as 60-40 partners. Jim received $1,000 in interest income from the business because he lent the business money. Jim owns 60% of the business. Therefore, Jim can exclude $600 from his net investment income since that is his allocable share of non-passive income. The remaining $400 would be subjected to the Net Investment Income Tax calculation. Yes, we accountants love a stupidly convoluted tax code- keeps you confused or bored, and keeps us employed.
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If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I wish there was a product that did this,” then invent it! Create a product, medical or otherwise, and sell it as a company or get royalties for it. It’s not impossible to figure out, I have many friends who have taken a concept to market. Don’t overlook an invention as a fantastic means of attaining passive income.
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.
As a result of this tax rate differential, the owner of a CCPC is almost always better off retaining corporate earnings and investing within their corporation. While a similar amount of combined corporate and personal tax is ultimately paid by business owners when monies are withdrawn through dividends, taxes can be deferred until such time as the money is required personally. This effectively allows business owners to temporarily obtain the benefit of investing a larger amount of money than would otherwise be available if they earned the money personally or immediately withdrew profits from their corporation.

Investors turn to real estate as a way to build long-term wealth, earn additional income, and generate a tax shelter. Using real estate as a tax shelter that extends to other income can be a complicated process. Knowing how you can use any losses generated by your rental real estate starts with understanding how the IRS defines and treats passive and active income.


You’re at risk for amounts borrowed to use in the activity if you’re personally liable for repayment. You’re also at risk if the amounts borrowed are secured by property other than property used in the activity. In this case, the amount considered at risk is the net fair market value of your interest in the pledged property. The net fair market value of property is its fair market value (determined on the date the property is pledged) less any prior (or superior) claims to which it’s subject. However, no property will be taken into account as security if it’s directly or indirectly financed by debt that’s secured by property you contributed to the activity.
Unfortunately, I can’t answer that conclusively one way or the other. It all depends on you, what you like to do, your work ethic, personality, etc. If you are a good writer perhaps you could write a book and make money that way. Or, you could start your own website and do affiliate marketing. Just because you are young it doesn’t mean you can’t make money doing at least a few of these ideas. I wish you luck in your money making efforts!
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