Investing in rental properties is an effective way to earn passive income. But it often requires more work than people expect. If you don’t take the time to learn how to make it a profitable venture, you could lose your investment and then some, says John H. Graves, an Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF) in the Los Angeles area and author of “The 7% Solution: You Can Afford a Comfortable Retirement.”

Rental properties are defined as passive income with a couple of exceptions. If you’re a real estate professional, any rental income you’re making counts as active income. If you’re "self-renting," meaning that you own a space and are renting it out to a corporation or partnership where you conduct business, that does not constitute passive income unless that lease had been signed before 1988, in which case you’ve been grandfathered into having that income being defined as passive. According to the IRS, "it does not matter whether or not the use is under a lease, a service contract, or some other arrangement."
A rental activity is a passive activity even if you materially participated in that activity, unless you materially participated as a real estate professional. See Real Estate Professional under Activities That Aren’t Passive Activities, later. An activity is a rental activity if tangible property (real or personal) is used by customers or held for use by customers, and the gross income (or expected gross income) from the activity represents amounts paid (or to be paid) mainly for the use of the property. It doesn’t matter whether the use is under a lease, a service contract, or some other arrangement.
A Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) provides individuals with the opportunity to invest relatively small amounts of money alongside other investors. By pooling resources, a group can take on bigger projects with bigger returns. And the risk of loss is spread across multiple investors, and depending on the size of the REIT, multiple investment properties.
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!
Mike, I don’t consider the income from FS to be passive, as I’m spending time commenting to you right now. But since 75% of my traffic comes from search, the most traffic I would probably lose is 25% for probably a year. And then my search word rankings would probably slowly fade given frequency of posting new content is one of the search algo variables.
Self-rental situations are not just limited to buildings. You could lease your car to your S corporation. No, this isn’t the same as leasing a car from a dealership. This is where you own a piece of equipment, let’s say an automobile, and you lease it back to your business for your business’s use. Sounds exotic, but it is quite simple. More about this in a later chapter dedicated to fringe benefits and tax deductions.

Self-rental situations are not just limited to buildings. You could lease your car to your S corporation. No, this isn’t the same as leasing a car from a dealership. This is where you own a piece of equipment, let’s say an automobile, and you lease it back to your business for your business’s use. Sounds exotic, but it is quite simple. More about this in a later chapter dedicated to fringe benefits and tax deductions.

Peer-to-peer lending ($1,440 a year): I've lost interest in P2P lending since returns started coming down. You would think that returns would start going up with a rise in interest rates, but I'm not really seeing this yet. Prosper missed its window for an initial public offering in 2015-16, and LendingClub is just chugging along. I hate it when people default on their debt obligations, which is why I haven't invested large sums of money in P2P. That said, I'm still earning a respectable 7% a year in P2P, which is much better than the stock market is doing so far in 2018!
If you don’t care about lifestyle design, you can just stay at your current job, right? With financial freedom, you can do whatever you want. You can actually start forming lifestyle design before you are financially free too, just like I have. Even though I spend the majority of my time working on my company, I have positioned myself to be completely on my own schedule, I work whenever I want to for as much or as little time as I want, I sleep in most days, I live at the beach, I can stop working in the middle of the day to go have lunch with a friend, go to the gym, walk the dogs or, shoot, stop working completely for the day and do whatever I want instead! Hiking, snowboarding, surfing, margaritas, whatever.
Despite some ups and downs in recent years, real estate continues to be a preferred choice for investors who want to generate long-term returns. Investing in a rental property, for example, is one way to produce a regular source of income. At the outset, an investor may be required to put up a 20% down payment to buy the property, but that may not be a barrier for someone who's already saving regularly. Once reliable tenants are installed, there's very little left to do except wait for the rent checks to begin rolling in.
I just found your site & so far I like what I see. I am 50 years old & will be retiring at the end of Jan 2019. I turn 51 the following month. I will have a pension income of $60,000 per year & an additional $5,400 from a survivors benefit. I was able to save $200,000 in a deferred comp program through my employer & wish to know what to do to generate a passive income? I can leave it in the plan which will generate about 3.5% or invest it. My concern is the tax liability of taking out a large sum from that fund & leaving me less to invest. I do have an opportunity to invest in a bar/restaurant with family (my main concern) that currently generates $120,000 annually for an absentee owner. It would be a 3 way partnership if I did that. I do like your idea of creating my own product such a blog with a goal of $12,000 to $18,000 passive income I feel that may be my best option. Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.

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.
However, when you lack the money, you need time. You'll need to invest the upfront time now in order to reap the benefits of automatic income later. It just doesn't happen overnight. So don't expect it to. However, you can do this without quitting your day job. All it takes is some sincere effort over a consistent period, and voila! But, to get there, you'll need to consistently burn the midnight oil or get up at the crack of dawn. Your choice.
Passive income tax benefits have the potential to turn a good rental property into a great one. However, as I said before, nobody is going to hold your hand and tell you to claim the appropriate deductions; you need to make sure you know what is within your legal right to deduct. I encourage all passive income investors to consult a certified public accountant (CPA) to confirm that they are, in fact, taking advantage of all the deductions made available. Please take note of the passive income tax benefits you qualify for and see to it they contribute to your bottom line instead of taking away from it.
If you buy T-bills worth of N500,000 at 10 per cent discount rate, CBN will debit your account with N450,000, leaving a balance of N50,000. This means that your interest of N50,000 has been paid to you upfront. When your investment matures, you are still paid your N500,000.This shows that you were actually paid N550,000 for your investment of N500,000. (Source)
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I wanted to specifically call out one particular strategy within equity investing that bears mentioning – dividend growth investing is when you focus on stocks that not only pay a dividend but have a history of strong dividend growth. When I was first building my portfolio of individual stocks, I focused on buying companies with a history of dividends, a history of strong growth, and financials that supported a continuation of both.

Under the new rules, the active income a business is allowed to claim at the small business amount is tied to the business’ passive income. Businesses with less than $50,000 in annual passive income can claim the full $500,000 at the 9% small business rate. The amount eligible for the small business rate shrinks by $5 for every $1 over $50,000 that a business makes in passive income, until it eventually reaches zero.
If you have a capital loss on the disposition of an interest in a passive activity, the loss may be limited. For individuals, your capital loss deduction is limited to the amount of your capital gains plus the lower of $3,000 ($1,500 in the case of a married individual filing a separate return) or the excess of your capital losses over capital gains. See Pub. 544 for more information.
If you are too risk-averse to engage in stock trading, there’s a much safer option to earn passive income, albeit with much lower margins of return: certificates of deposit or fixed deposits issued by banks. These financial vehicles are similar to mini investments. CDs work very similar to savings accounts with one notable difference. Once you place a deposit, it cannot be withdrawn until the certificate matures. You can obtain these certificates for lump sums of cash that you can allow to mature within time periods like 2 years or 5 years. The advantage of CDs is that they offer higher interest rates than regular savings accounts. You can rest assured that the money will be safe in the bank. A CD earns interest quarterly or annually and all you have to do is just sit back and wait for it to mature.
While all employees can benefit from 401(k) plans right now, the retirement options for Americans have not been improved to suit the ever-changing needs of the elderly. One of the biggest reasons Americans can’t save as they used to is debt. At present, people are in debt even before they are fully employed. If you are in debt like most Americans, then earning passive income is more important than ever. It can help you pay down debt and generally make you more financially secure.
Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) are independent from the IRS. LITCs represent individuals whose income is below a certain level and need to resolve tax problems with the IRS, such as audits, appeals, and tax collection disputes. In addition, clinics can provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language. Services are offered for free or a small fee. To find a clinic near you, visit or see IRS Publication 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List.
How will this new framework for refundable taxes impact the real estate environment? Well, given that refundable taxes apply in respect of CCPCs only, this new regime will not affect the foreign pension funds, public corporations or tax-exempt entities investing in real estate in Canada. The new regime will also not impact CCPCs that retain their profits within the corporation instead of distributing them to their individuals nor will it impact CCPCs that earn pure active business income or pure passive investment income. Instead, these measures will affect CCPCs accumulating profits from both active business income and passive income and paying these profits out to their individual shareholders.

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.

I have a total of three CDs left. There is no way in hell I’m selling them after holding them for 4+ years so far to take the penalty. The CDs are for 7 years. That would be completely counterproductive. As a result, I feel very stuck with ever getting my CD money back if I wanted to. If the CDs were for just 1 or 2 years, I agree, it doesn’t matter as much. But combine a 7 year term with 4%+ interest is too painful to give up.
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.
Many entrepreneurs are asking if the new rules will result in them paying additional taxes if their corporations generate passive income in excess of $50,000. In most circumstances, the answer is that they will pay more corporate taxes, thereby reducing the size of their tax deferral advantage (from 40% down to 27% on their 2019 corporate income earned in Ontario).
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.
In identifying the items of deduction and loss from an activity that aren’t disallowed under the basis and at-risk limitations (and that therefore may be treated as passive activity deductions), you needn’t account separately for any item of deduction or loss unless such item may, if separately taken into account, result in an income tax liability different from that which would result were such item of deduction or loss taken into account separately.
3. Start as soon as possible. Building a livable passive-income stream takes a tremendously long time, largely because of declining interest rates since the late 1980s. Gone are the days of making a 5%-plus return on a short-term CD or savings account. Today, the best 12-month CD is at 2.5%, and the best money-market rate is about 1.85%, which is not bad, considering such rates were below 0.5% just a couple of years ago. Know that every $100 you save can generate at least $2.5 in passive income.
Whether you take a “distribution” (aka free-cash-flow) in the form of a dividend, interest payment, capital gain, maturing ladder of a CD, etc, you are still taking the same amount of cash out of your portfolio. Don’t fall for the trap of sub optimizing your overall portfolio’s performance because your chasing some unimportant trait called “income”.
Next, you can sell things you already have and make. For example, if you’re a teacher and have some great lesson plans, Teachers Pay Teachers allows you to put up and sell your lesson plans. You need the plan for your class anyways, why not sell it? The same goes for photos you’ve taken. You don’t need to be a professional photographer, and you can sell your photos on sites like iStock.
The current laws don’t really distinguish between active and passive income. Since passive income is already taxed at a lower rate, companies can use dividends as a way to gain a tax advantage by paying dividends out of active (and lower-taxed) income rather than passive income. Business owners will now have to prove they’re paying dividends out of investment income, which will make it more difficult to game the system by getting a double deduction on lower-taxed dividends. Some business owners use dividends as a method of retirement savings. If your small business clients get their household income from dividends, talk to them about alternative strategies, such as setting up payroll and switching to a salary. While salaries are taxed at a higher rate, they’re also helpful for retirement savings as they involuntarily trigger Canada Pension Plan contributions.
It is common for a business owner who relies on machinery or equipment to have two business entities. One entity is an LLC that owns the assets. The other entity is an S corporation which leases the assets from the LLC to use in the business. This directly reduces the S Corp’s income, and might possibly reduce the amount of salary required to be paid by the business to the shareholders. Good news.
Even if each patron only contributes a very small amount each month, it can still be a huge source of income. Take a look at the Patreon page for Kinda Funny, an internet video company. They have over 6,209 patrons which means an average of just $3 a month would be a monthly income of almost $19,000 – plus they get cheerleaders that are always happy to spread the word on their brand.
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.
Investing in real estate has been around for ages.  Whether you are looking to buy your first duplex or getting into a large commercial property, rental properties can provide passive income through rents with some very appealing tax benefits.  This method can be harder to get started with given the initial capital needed in most cases, but is certainly a great way to generate passive income.
A great source of passive income is advertising dollars from other businesses and people.  If you have a website, blog, or strong social media following, other businesses will start to take notice.  A trick I have learned in this space is that it is much less expensive and faster to go where people already are then to try and create it yourself.  But, if you create it yourself, then others will come to you.  This is how you turn you blog, etc. into passive income.  Let’s say your blog has 300,000 visitors a month, that’s quite the following!  Other businesses and people looking to advertise a product or service would rather come to you and pay you to have their advertising on your blog.  This is less expensive for them since you have already created an audience for them, and great for you since they are paying you for this audience. 
The reason I prefer e-books is, with e-books you write the book once and make money forever without worrying about print or inventory. At the moment, I have 3 e-books selling on this blog and the process to get any of them is simply automated. Once anyone makes a purchase, they get delivery within minutes. So I could sleep or spend the whole day at the beach and I would still be making money. Passive income!
Investing in real estate: Investing in real estate offers more passive income cash potential - but more risk - than investing in stocks or bonds. You'll need substantial amounts of cash to invest in buying a home -- it usually takes 20% down to land a good home mortgage loan. But history shows that home prices usually rise over time, so buying home a for $200,000 and selling it for $250,000 over a five-year time period, for example, is a reasonable expectation when investing in real estate.

When you invest in a dividend-paying stock, you are buying a share of the company and you literally become part-owner of that business. As the company grows and generates extra cash that it doesn’t necessarily want to re-invest, it might decide to return some of the extra cash to the shareholders in the form of dividends. And because you own a fraction of the company, you will receive a portion of the cash!

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.
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.
Despite some ups and downs in recent years, real estate continues to be a preferred choice for investors who want to generate long-term returns. Investing in a rental property, for example, is one way to produce a regular source of income. At the outset, an investor may be required to put up a 20% down payment to buy the property, but that may not be a barrier for someone who's already saving regularly. Once reliable tenants are installed, there's very little left to do except wait for the rent checks to begin rolling in.
Portfolio income is income generated from selling an asset, and if you sell that asset for a higher price than what you paid for it originally, you will have a gain. Depending on the holding period of the asset, and other factors, that gain might be taxed at ordinary income tax rates or capital gains tax rates. Interest and dividends are other examples of portfolio income.
I also noticed that in your passive income chart at the bottom that you don’t include your internet income other than sales from your book. Is there a reason for that? Do you not consider is passive because you are actively blogging all the time to create it? Or do you just not want readers to know how much money you generate from blogging activities?
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.

As a private lender, you can lend to anyone in your social circle. For example, many home rehabbers need access to a source of capital they can tap into very quickly in order to fund the initial purchase of their properties. You can partner with a rehabber who uses your capital for a short-term in exchange for an interest rate that is mutually agreed upon.
A loss is the excess of allowable deductions from the activity for the year (including depreciation or amortization allowed or allowable and disregarding the at-risk limits) over income received or accrued from the activity during the year. Income doesn’t include income from the recapture of previous losses (discussed later, under Recapture Rule ).
You must file a written statement with your original income tax return for the tax year in which you regroup the activities. The statement must provide the names, addresses, and EINs, if applicable, for the activities that are being regrouped. If two or more activities are being regrouped into a single activity, the statement must contain a declaration that the regrouped activities make up an appropriate economic unit for the measurement of gain or loss under the passive activity rules. In addition, the statement must contain an explanation of the material change in the facts and circumstances that made the original grouping clearly inappropriate.
I agree mostly with the real estate advice. I’m looking for ways to take advantage of the condo I own to get up the rent from ~$0.90/ft to the $1.2-1.5/ft that seems more like the range in the same area. I’d have to put in a bit of capital (probably 10k on the low end for just the basics up to 40k if I wanted to remodel the kitchen and 2 bathrooms up to par with the area), so the return is likely there if those upgrades warrant $1.30/ft (given the unit is larger than most 2br/2ba in the area).
“Where a lot of people mess up is they try to build a business or create a product that serves everybody, and by trying to serve everybody, you serve nobody. You have to specialize and niche down and find a market with a pain point that you, based on your experience, based on your education and based on your passion, can help,” he says. Your earnings will directly reflect how well you serve that particular audience, and the more your message resonates with them, the more opportunities you’ll have to sell to them.
My favorite type of semi-passive income was rental property because it was a tangible asset that provided reliable income. As I grew older, my interest in rental property waned because I no longer had the patience and time to deal with maintenance issues and tenants. Online real estate became more attractive, along with tax-free municipal-bond income once rates started to rise.

I wouldn't think of a high yield savings account as a source of passive income but your savings should be getting something (less like Seinfeld syndication residuals and more like a commercial jingle residuals!). It won't make you rich but it's nice if your baseline, risk-free rate of return on cash is 1% or more. The best high yield savings accounts (or money market accounts) offer higher interest rate and there is absolutely no risk. CIT Bank currently leads the pack with the highest interest rate.
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.