I’m a 45 year old business owner who also has focussed on diversifying my income streams. I have a short term vacation rental in Florida that I bought for $390k in 2012 and net rental income for the last three years has been growing steadily. 2015 I am at $70k gross right now but should end up at $80-85k with net around $45k plus we use the place about 35 nights a year.
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.
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 read about early withdrawal penalties on IRAs/401Ks very often. Almost always with a statement of “locked up” or “can’t touch” until 59.5. I’m sure you and well informed readers as well know about SEPPs in regard to IRAs/401Ks. For those that don’t SEPPs aren’t perfect but they are a way to tap retirement funds penalty free and I will be using in the future as I have over half of my equity investments within retirement accounts. South of a mil, North of a half. Let me add that I think your blog is outstanding.
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“I don’t believe the overnight success exists. There’s a lot of hard work and time involved beforehand,” say Flynn. Angry Birds may have seemed like an overnight success but it was the 52nd game that Rovio created. Flynn says it took him a year or year and a half to build audiences for his most successful sites. (Read these time management expert's tips on the work habits of successful people.)
An Individual Pension Plan (IPP) is a defined benefit pension plan created for one person, rather than a large group of employees. Since the corporation contributes to the IPP and the income earned in the IPP does not belong to the corporation, that income is not AAII. The tax benefits of an IPP need to be offset against the administrative costs, including actuarial costs, to set up and maintain the plan.
There is a specific tax definition of passive income, known as “passive activity” to the Internal Revenue Service. Passive income is any income you make without actively working or are materially involved. The IRS defines it as any rental activity or any business in which the taxpayer does not “materially participate.” Nonpassive activities, or active activities, are businesses in which the taxpayer works on a regular, continuous, and substantial basis.
When you retire you will make a shift from relying on earned income to relying on unearned income. Because tax treatment will vary depending on the income source, it is best to have money available from multiple sources such as tax-free accounts like Roth IRAs, after-tax accounts like savings and investments in brokerage accounts, and tax-deferred accounts like IRAs and 401(k)s.
​I’ve been into home décor lately and I had to turn to Etsy to find exactly what I wanted. I ended up purchasing digital files of the artwork I wanted printed out! The seller had made a bunch of wall art, digitized, and listed it on Etsy for instant download. There are other popular digital files on Etsy as well such as monthly planners. If you’re into graphic design this could be an amazing passive income idea for you.

So that is where it gets a little weird too- tax classifications, which might be slightly different than the term defining how much work you do. Owning a business will always be taxed as active income. Rental properties will always be taxed as passive income. The reason being (all theoretical to an extent) is that, in theory, if the business stops selling or performing, income is lost. In theory, rental properties can continue to make money if you do no work on them. If I had a rockstar property manager who constantly handled everything about the property, I could technically do zero work and still receive income. In theory, even if the PM stopped working the property, if a tenant stayed there forever and kept sending money, you get income with no work. Not all that realistic for you to never be involved, and most certainly to succeed without a PM, but taxes assume it’s possible. Work has to continue to happen with a business for it to make income, therefore it’s active.
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.
If you can max out your 401k or max out your IRA and then save an additional 20%+ of your after-tax, after-retirement contribution, good things really start to happen. If one is looking for earlier financial independence, such as retiring in their 40s or early 50s, it may be a good idea to skew towards more after-tax savings and investments given one has to wait until 59.5 to withdraw from their 401k or IRA penalty-free.
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The organizing principle behind this grouping, appropriate economic units, is relatively simple: if the activities are located in the same geographic area; if the activities have similarities in the types of business; or if the activities are somehow interdependent, for instance, if they have the same customers, employees or use a single set of books for accounting.
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During 2017, John was unmarried and wasn’t a real estate professional. For 2017, he had $120,000 in salary and a $31,000 loss from his rental real estate activities in which he actively participated. His modified adjusted gross income is $120,000. When he files his 2017 return, he can deduct only $15,000 of his passive activity loss. He must carry over the remaining $16,000 passive activity loss to 2018. He figures his deduction and carryover as follows.
One of the latest trends is crowdfunding / syndications where money is pooled together to directly invest in various real estate properties.  You do not get quite the variety and diversification you would in a REIT but it provides an opportunity to invest a smaller amount of money than purchasing a property directly.  Usually, you are a limited partner in a partnership.  Since you are not materially involved in the day to day activities, the income generated is passive income.
Flynn has created many different products. While his LEED exam is what got him started, he has both earned a commission from selling other people’s products and offered a commission to others who would sell his wares, and also recently created his first software, SmartPodcastPlayer.com, after realizing that most online podcast players offered only the basic stop/start/volume features. He hired a development team to create a superior one, which was a success from day 1. “We sold out 250 beta licenses in less than 24 hours, because I was addressing a need but also, I had built up an audience and trust with them … When you build that amount of trust with your audience, whatever you come out with, they will love.”
One great way to generate a passive income is through affiliate marketing. Now, this does depend on the size of your list. Yes, size matters when it comes to your list. Especially if you're looking to make some serious money and do it on autopilot. But, list-building takes time. It doesn't happen overnight. And you need to add value to your list or you become obsolete.
All written content on this site is for information purposes only. Opinions expressed herein are solely those of AWM, unless otherwise specifically cited. Material presented is believed to be from reliable sources and no representations are made by our firm as to another parties’ informational accuracy or completeness. All information or ideas provided should be discussed in detail with an advisor, accountant or legal counsel prior to implementation.
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