Dan Caplinger has been a contract writer for the Motley Fool since 2006. As the Fool's Director of Investment Planning, Dan oversees much of the personal-finance and investment-planning content published daily on Fool.com. With a background as an estate-planning attorney and independent financial consultant, Dan's articles are based on more than 20 years of experience from all angles of the financial world. Follow @DanCaplinger

Another thing that belongs firmly at the top of passive income ideas lists is affiliate marketing, where you earn a commission for each product or service that you recommend. My new focus these days is on Amazon affiliate websites. The idea is that you talk about, or review products that you can find on Amazon. People visit your website, click on some of your Amazon affiliate links, buy a product on Amazon and you get a commission for any sales, not only for that specific product but for anything they buy within a 24-hour period.
The real value of a building lies in the tenant. If you’re the tenant and you’re a good tenant, you might as well be the owner, otherwise, you’re giving that benefit away to someone else. A few years back we bought most of our buildings from other owners after renting from them for many years. Our approach to the building owners was, “We want to own our own offices, we are willing to pay you a fair price for the building, but if you won’t sell, we’ll buy somewhere else and move. 4/5 sold to us, the one that wouldn’t sell, we decided to buy a new office building and moved. Owning your own office is typically a very safe and very good investment if bought at a fair market value and assuming you are planning on staying put at least 5+ years. If you are trying to buy the office from your current landlord, I think a fair price is somewhere between the value of a vacant office building and the value of a stable physician occupied office with a long-term lease.
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).
Passive income broadly refers to money you don't earn from actively engaging in a trade or business. By its broadest definition, passive income would include nearly all investment income, including interest, dividends, and capital gains. What most people are referring to when they talk about passive income is income that comes from what the IRS calls a passive activity.
From what he describes, creating passive income definitely does not sound easy. It requires a serious ramp-up -- often requires 80- to 100-hour workweeks in the beginning, says Flynn. But once up and running, and depending on the content, some sites take fairly minimal maintenance. Green Exam Academy, the LEED exam study site he launched in 2008, takes just him four to five hours a month to maintain but brings in $250,000 annually.
This Social Security payroll tax is enforced on the amount of earned income that you receive up to a specified dollar limit, which is called the contribution and benefit base, or earnings cap. In 2018, this dollar limit is $128,400, up from $127,200 in 2017. This means that no additional Social Security payroll tax is owed on earned income in excess of this limit.
Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.
If you love design and you are an artistic person, selling digital products on Etsy could be a great way to earn passive income. Digital products require little maintenance, your customers will simply receive a link to download them (which means you don’t have to worry about shipping and returns handling). All you need to do is spend time upfront to create beautiful artwork! (Easy right?)
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Next, you’ll want to design the simplest form of your app. The minimum viable product. The bare bones version with only the essentials. This is key for successfully creating app passive income. First, start with creating a wireframe. This is just a blueprint of your app’s features. The first screen will be the opening screen or home screen of your app. From here, you will branch out to the different screens and features of your app. Remember, be very descriptive. This is what you are going to give to your graphic designer and development team.


When money is lent to a partnership or S-corporation acting as a pass-through entity (essentially a business that is designed to reduce the effects of double taxation) by that entity’s owner, the interest income on that loan to the portfolio income can qualify as passive income. As the IRS language reads: "Certain self-charged interest income or deductions may be treated as passive activity gross income or passive activity deductions if the loan proceeds are used in a passive activity."
As interest rates have been going down over the past 30 years, bond prices have continued to go up. With the 10-year yield (risk free rate) at roughly 2.55%, and the Fed Funds rate at 1.5% (two more 0.25% hikes are expected in 2018), it’s hard to see interest rates declining much further. That said, long term interest rates can stay low for a long time. Just look at Japanese interest rates, which are negative (inflation is higher than nominal interest rate).
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).
In theory, and keeping it at the highest most basic level, financial freedom means you have to do no work in order to receive income. So once you are financially free, you no longer have to worry about money. What does that look like to you? Maybe you are like me and plan to do a lot of traveling, take up new hobbies, take random college courses to learn new things (for fun, not because I have to), spend epic amounts of time snowboarding and playing in the woods, and as always, sleeping in. Or maybe you are the polar opposite and plan to wake up early and hang out on your couch all day and watch TV.
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.
In June, he put ads on his site with Google Adsense, and within the first hour, earned $1.08 with three clicks. He earned $5 the first day, $7 the second, and then eventually began pulling in $15-$30 a day. In October, he created an ebook exam study guide priced at $19.99. By month’s end, he earned $7,906.55 — more than he had ever previously earned in a month.

A former passive activity is an activity that was a passive activity in any earlier tax year, but isn’t a passive activity in the current tax year. You can deduct a prior year's unallowed loss from the activity up to the amount of your current year net income from the activity. Treat any remaining prior year unallowed loss like you treat any other passive loss.


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).
If you have anything in excess, like house space, cars or even your driveway, you can consider renting out. Since you already own these items, you wouldn’t have to go around buying new things. Simply list these things somewhere, like a room on Airbnb, to get started. You will probably have to put in some time and money for the upkeep, but otherwise it’s a pretty passive venture.

According to Congressional Budget Office figures from 2011, the top 1 percent of taxpayers pay an average of 29.5 percent, those in the percentiles from 81 percent to 99 percent pay 22.8 percent, those from 21 percent through 80 percent pay 15.1 percent, and the bottom 20 percent pay 4.7 percent. Those numbers, of course, don’t include the 49.5 percent of Americans who pay no federal income tax at all.

Real-estate crowdfunding ($9,600 a year): Once I sold my SF rental, it was natural to reinvest some of the proceeds into real-estate crowdfunding to keep sector exposure. I didn't invest a lot in some of my favorite real-estate investment trusts because I felt a rising interest-rate environment would be a stronger headwind for REITs. But if I could be more surgical with my real-estate investments by identifying specific investments in stronger employment-growth markets, I thought I could do better.
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.
The following post is a guest post from Anjali Jariwala, Founder of FIT Advisors. I began receiving a good number of questions about the tax implications of some of the different types of real estate investments I was making. Instead of fumbling with it myself, I invited an expert in the field of finances and tax to help me with it. Some of it is quite technical but I told her I’m a fan of numbers. Enjoy!)
This shouldn’t be a surprise. I mean, when I speak to groups and ask how many docs in the room would cut their hours/shifts/call etc if their finances allow it and they all raise their hand. So taking a group of docs who not only have their financial ducks in a row, but also have a side income and pursuit already, why would they be working full-time?

Most credit card companies offer sign-up bonuses to entice you to open a credit account with them. As long as you don’t spend money just to hit the minimum balance and always pay your balance on time, this can have a minimal impact on your credit score while earning you hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars a year. Some of the best travel credit cards offer 100,000 points to new accounts when you meet reasonable spending requirements.

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.
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.

If your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is $100,000 or less ($50,000 or less if married filing separately), you can deduct your loss up to the amount specified above. If your MAGI is more than $100,000 (more than $50,000 if married filing separately), your special allowance is limited to 50% of the difference between $150,000 ($75,000 if married filing separately) and your MAGI.
Proof of participation. You can use any reasonable method to prove your participation in an activity for the year. You don’t have to keep contemporaneous daily time reports, logs, or similar documents if you can establish your participation in some other way. For example, you can show the services you performed and the approximate number of hours spent by using an appointment book, calendar, or narrative summary.
Hi Logan, thanks for perfect article on passive income theme! I am a newbie in this passive income thing but everything I read here seems obvious to me. Why not create a passive income, right? So I started googling about making passive income via internet because I like things connected to the web and I think that this will be a huge thing (it already is) and I found this article which seems that is probably very new but in the ebook there are great informations about passive income, at least in my POV (newbie POV). Is this a legit website or can it actually work? I want to expand on that because my 9 – 5 s*cks… Here is the URL: https://cashwithoutjob.online
Most credit card companies offer sign-up bonuses to entice you to open a credit account with them. As long as you don’t spend money just to hit the minimum balance and always pay your balance on time, this can have a minimal impact on your credit score while earning you hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars a year. Some of the best travel credit cards offer 100,000 points to new accounts when you meet reasonable spending requirements.
The tax returns Romney has made public show most of his money comes from investment returns on his holdings rather than from wages or a salary. His overall tax rate in 2010 was 13.9 percent and his estimated rate for 2011 is 15.4 percent. This caused a predictable outcry that his tax rate is lower than the income tax bracket of many middle class Americans.

The amount of tax you will pay on passive income will largely depend on the amount of income you generated and the ways in which it was obtained. For example, income from interest or short-term capital gains will be taxed according to standard income tax rates, while qualified dividends will be taxed according to long-term capital gains rates if you made more than $38,600 in ordinary income.
Herbert and Wilma are married and file a joint return. Healthy Food, an S corporation, is a grocery store business. Herbert is Healthy Food's only shareholder. Plum Tower, an S corporation, owns and rents out the building. Wilma is Plum Tower's only shareholder. Plum Tower rents part of its building to Healthy Food. Plum Tower's grocery store rental business and Healthy Food's grocery business aren’t insubstantial in relation to each other.
According to Uncle Sam, you need to be "materially involved" in an enterprise to earn active income. With passive income, it's just the opposite, as the IRS deems you to be earning passive income if you're not materially involved with a profit-making enterprise. By and large, expect income to be taxable if you are engaged in a passive income enterprise. You will need to report earnings to the IRS.
Although YouTube has been around for years, it is gaining in popularity as more people “cut the cord” on their cable TV service. There are plenty of people who are polished and have production quality that rivals many of the movies or TV shows that I watch. However, the vast majority are people just like you and me. Don’t be shy. Trust me, no matter what kind of content you publish, there are people way worse. And you will get better, just give it time.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities, and limited-English-speaking taxpayers who need help preparing their own tax returns. The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program offers free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those who are 60 years of age and older. TCE volunteers specialize in answering questions about pensions and retirement-related issues unique to seniors.
It all comes down to your goals. There is nothing wrong with flipping, wholesaling or landlording, as long as you are understanding of the fact, and okay with the fact, that you are working for your money. I personally have no desire to work in those capacities, so I stick with passive income investments. I did, however, start a business in order to fund those investments. I started a business in lieu of using flipping or wholesaling to earn capital. You can do whatever you want, but at least be clear on what it is you are actually doing, i.e. working for your money versus investing your money.

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.
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.
Real estate rental income is one of the best passive income opportunities I’ve taken advantage of. When you buy a rental property, you are buying a home, apartment building or commercial building, then renting it out to someone who cannot afford to buy it themselves. It is a win-win for everyone. They get a nice place for a reasonable price and you get a property that is being paid for by the tenant.
All ideas take some amount of time and money to come to fruition. Some people have a lot of one of these, but not much of the other. A lot of successful ideas have started when one person had the resources that another did not. And many businesses have been started using 0% loans from credit cards to fund their concept and keep the business going until it achieved success.
In February 2018, the government of Canada introduced new rules for passive income that could affect how your small business clients are taxed. The new income rules relate to the amount of business income that can be taxed at the lower small business rate versus the higher corporate rate. If you work with small businesses that have a significant amount of passive income from investments, get to know these new rules so you can be ready to answer all your clients’ questions.

Great argument for passive income but want more meat on the bone on “passive income” information. We all feel screwed by the progressive tax system. Most of us probably think our dividends and cap gains are passive. True, but the real wealth, sans ceiling, resides within more risky ventures like entrepreneurship and real estate. While appealing, I’m too busy for all that at the level I need to be for success. It took me 2 years (starting with your blog) of reading financial books and blogs before I was ready to DIY invest. Several years, 2 kids and a slamming practice later, I just don’t have the time to read up on other passive avenues. Plus, I’m pretty content with my dividend and cap gains (while they last) and would rather see patients than take a call about a rental house. Maybe when the kids grow up a bit and I scale my practice back, your ideas will fall in more fertile soil. Until then, I look forward to future posts and comments.

4. Calculate how much passive income you need. It's important to have a passive-income goal — otherwise, it's very easy to lose motivation. A good goal is to try to generate enough passive income to cover basic living expenses such as food, shelter, transportation, and clothing. If your annual expense number is $30,000, divide that figure by your expected rate of return to see how much capital you need to save. Unfortunately, you've got to then multiply the capital amount by 1.25 to 1.5 to account for taxes.


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.
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.

Having an extra house, condo or apartment is potentially quite lucrative, especially if  what the tenant pays covers your mortgage, taxes, insurance, etc. Someone else is basically building your pool of wealth because in 10 or 20 years, you’ll have this $100,000+ asset that is paid off. You can sell it for a large chunk of cash, or keep renting it out and have a nice, steady stream of income. The major problem is that managing this isn’t exactly passive, unless you hire a rental management company who generally take one month’s rent out of the year in exchange for doing this.

Now, under the regime proposed by the 2018 federal budget, the same corporation would not be eligible for a refund of its RDTOH upon the payment of the Eligible Dividend. Instead, the corporation will obtain its RDTOH back only if the dividend paid is a dividend other than an Eligible Dividend. This will therefore eliminate the deferral of the additional 4% income tax.

I do agree that a few of these ideas are not bad, but for me the problem with some of these platforms has been that I’m not from the USA. So, I can’t operate there. It’s a really interesting possibility to get some extra bucks from doing what you would do either way, like shopping. One of the best projects so far that I have seen is FluzFluz. It’s simple and really easy to use for everyone who uses Uber, Amazo, or other apps. The best part of all is that you can get some passive income – not just from your own purchases, but from other people’s as well. I hope one day it will make it here to your list. I think it’s worth it to check out.

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