In this economy, it seems like more and more of us are looking for a way to earn passive income. Whether we need to pay off credit card debt or just need some extra cash, passive income could come in handy. But what is passive income exactly? Depending on who you ask, it may not be as “passive” as you think. Let’s take a look at what it is and the top ways to make it.
Passive income is also not subjected to self-employment taxes. But similar to portfolio income, it might be subject to the Net Investment Income tax. So, if you own a rental house, the income generated from the rental house is considered passive income. As a side note, taxpayers used to label themselves as Real Estate Professionals under IRS definition to allow passive losses to be deducted; now we are seeing the same label to avoid Net Investment Income tax on rental income.
Finding an outstanding development team is critical for success. Don’t just go for the lowest and cheapest price. You need a balance of budget and quality. From personal experience, I’ve had the best luck with developers from Romania. That is my number one pick. When you post a job on Upwork.com, everyone will be promising you world. Do not fall for a development team that does not have good feedback and return clients. Return clients are one of the most important. This means their client was willing to return to them for more work after their job finished! That says something.
Though it can take a while to build up enough cash to put a 20% down payment on an investment property (the typical lender minimum), they can snowball fairly quickly. The key here is to correctly project income and expenses in order to calculate cash flow (the free cash you can put in your pocket after all associated property expenses have been paid). However you have to be sure to include the cost of a property manager in your calculations unless you want to manage the property yourself. Even with a property manager, you may be required to make large repair decisions every now and then – so while this is not a 100% passive activity, you are not directly trading your time for money like traditional employment.
One of the biggest advantages of passive income is that it works when you aren’t working. The more passive the income, the less work that is involved at all. This appeals to my inherent laziness. But consider a high-powered surgeon. Sure, her hourly rate, while she is operating, is astronomical. But as soon as she walks out of the OR, that income stream stops until she scrubs in again. Vacation? Not only is there no income stream, but there is likely a negative one due to overhead. When a passive earner is on vacation, that income stream, small as it may be in comparison to the surgeon, keeps right on working. Interest works both ways and as my kids know, interest should be something you get not something you pay. As J. Reuben Clark said nearly a century ago:
I love real estate investing, but it requires a lot of upfront capital plus you are going to have to learn to love your tenants (see point 6 below)! Crowdfunded real estate investing gives you a way to still invest in the real estate market, without having to necessarily put in a lot of money upfront. It’s definitely a much more passive investment than owning a flat or a house!
Overall, generating passive income mostly provides benefits. First and foremost, you’re able to make money without using too much of your time. Of course the time you actually spend will depend on your passive income venture, as will the amount of money you put into it. The key is to find the right balance for your existing lifestyle so that you turn a profit without too much spent.
If you do not meet any of the above criteria and you lose money on a real estate investment, you still may be able to reduce your taxes. First, use a loss on one real estate investment to offset a profit on another investment. If you make $20,000 on one apartment building but lose $3,000 on a duplex, you will end up with only $17,000 in taxable income from real estate activities. If you only own one property, the IRS usually allows you to carry that loss forward to offset profits in the future.
Some retirees start consulting businesses, do handy-man work, or in some other way become self-employed. Many are caught off guard by the payroll/FICA tax and can get behind on taxes once they become self-employed. If you become self-employed be sure to work with a good tax professional who can help you calculate the right amount of payroll tax to send in, otherwise April 15th will be a very unpleasant time of year for you.
If you’re looking for an investment that offers a seamless user experience, real estate crowdfunding is your tool. Companies like RealtyMogul.com connect investors to debt and equity investment opportunities online, without the hassle of dealing with large banks or financial institutions. The online functionality appeals to all skill levels, from first-timers to veteran investors. In just a few clicks, investors can access the best real estate deals.
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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.