Lauren Perez, CEPF® Lauren Perez writes on a variety of personal finance topics for SmartAsset, with a special expertise in savings, banking and credit cards. She is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance® (CEPF®) and a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. Lauren has a degree in English from the University of Rochester where she focused on Language, Media and Communications. She is originally from Los Angeles. While prone to the occasional shopping spree, Lauren has been aware of the importance of money management and savings since she was young. Lauren loves being able to make credit card and retirement account recommendations to friends and family based on the hours of research she completes at SmartAsset.
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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.
Investing is arguably the easiest way to make passive income.  The problem is most investments sound good in theory but don’t work out so well in practice.  And if you don’t have much experience or access to capital, let alone the time to work it all out, it can seem more or less impossible.  However, there is one smart way to invest that just might work.  Continue reading >
“The biggest surprise is real estate being second to last on my Passive Income Ranking List because I’ve written that real estate is my favorite investment class to build wealth. Real estate doesn’t stack up well against the other passive income sources due to the lack of liquidity and constant maintenance of tenants and property. The returns can be huge due to rising rental income AND principal over time, much like dividend investing. If you are a “proactive passive income earner” like myself, then real estate is great.”
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.
4. Home Office: Passive income investors, not unlike most professionals that work from home, are allowed to deduct their home office; provided it meets the minimal criteria. What’s more, this deduction helps both renters and homeowners. You can deduct your home office whether you on the home it is in or are simply renting it. However, like every other deduction on this list, the home office must meet certain requirements to qualify for a deduction.
If any amount of your pro rata share of an S corporation's loss for the tax year is disallowed under the basis limitation, a ratable portion of your pro rata share of each item of deduction or loss of the S corporation is disallowed for the tax year. For this purpose, the ratable portion of an item of deduction or loss is the amount of such item multiplied by the fraction obtained by dividing:
When it comes to taxation, there is the possibility of writing passive income off as a deduction if you record a loss. Keep in mind though that you can still get taxed on passive income. You will also have to make sure you follow the IRS’ requirements for passive income. If they deem that you’re too materially involved with the project, you’ll see a bigger tax bill.
There’s a saying that the biggest opportunity for improvement is at the margin. Boiled down, this means that you can reap big rewards for minor adjustments in behavior. Instead of using a check, debit card or cash to pay for daily activities and big expenses, using a cashback credit card can earn you a sizeable return each year. One of my favorite cards, the Discover it will even double all of the cash back you earn the first year!

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.
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.
Maybe such a business is owning a McDonald’s franchise or something. If one has the capital (Feasibility Score 2), then the returns might be good (Return Score 6). But the Risk Score is probably under a 5, b/c how many times have we seen franchise chains come and go? Like, what happened to Quiznos and Jamba Juice? A McDonald’s franchise was $500,000… probably much more now?

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.
Those who meet the IRS' definition of a real estate professional have their real estate investments treated as active income. To meet this definition, you must spend at least 750 hours per year working in the real estate industry. Paid employees who own at least 5 percent of a real estate business also are considered a professional. If you are a full-time developer for your own account or a full-time real estate agent paid only on commission, you are a real estate professional. In these two instances, you can use losses from your investments to offset income you make in other real estate business activities.

The rules in the next two paragraphs apply to any financing incurred after August 3, 1998. You also can choose to apply these rules to financing you obtained before August 4, 1998. If you do that, you must reduce the amounts at risk as a result of applying these rules to years ending before August 4, 1998, to the extent they increase the losses allowed for those years.
If any amount of your loss from an activity (as defined in Activities Covered by the At-Risk Rules , later) is disallowed under the at-risk rules for the tax year, a ratable portion of each item of deduction or loss from the activity is disallowed for the tax year. For this purpose, the ratable portion of an item of deduction or loss is the amount of such item multiplied by the fraction obtained by dividing:

The main idea behind the new passive income rules is to create a system that taxes businesses proportionally to their overall size and income amount. If you’re mostly dealing with smaller startups and family-run businesses, these new passive income rules will probably have little effect, and may even allow companies more freedom to grow their business.
This is certainly not in my wheelhouse, but time and again people have been able to make a lot of money from creating and selling an app.  You can offer the app for free to users, and if enough people use it you can then charge for businesses to advertise (just like #5) with you.  You can also offer a version of the app that has no advertisements, but the user must pay a nominal fee to have this version.  Either way once you have created the app and it is in the marketplace, it has a ton of potential to generate passive income.  Depending on the app, you could also be bought out by a larger company and given a lump sum to walk away.  This happened to Garret & Jessica Gee.  Garret developed an app that was eventually sold to Snapchat for $54 Million!
Start an affiliate marketing website: This passive income model works for individuals who already own a bog or website. Here, your business goal is to contact companies and offer to tout their products and services, usually for a fee or a commission, based on the number of page views you get. Studies show that more people spend time online and less watching TV or reading the newspaper. Take advantage of that leverage and earn income from the tens of thousands of companies who want to reach an audience - maybe your audience. Either reach out to companies directly or go through a site like ClickBank, which offers affiliate marketing opportunities.
Partnerships and S corporations aren’t subject to the rules for new grouping, addition to an existing grouping, or regrouping. Instead, they must comply with the disclosure instructions for grouping activities provided in their Form 1065, U.S. Return of Partnership Income, or Form 1120S, U.S. Income Tax Return for an S Corporation, whichever is applicable.
Good suggestions. I have many of these. One word about the “app” idea. I had a great idea related to personal taxes that I tried to get off the ground with my accountant as a partner. I would say it’s difficult to do this unless you have a coder on your team. Hiring someone is not really viable financially unless the app is simple. When we finally got the quote for a coder to write what we wanted (and after doing lots of mock ups ourselves and getting a demo for investors) the estimate was about 750k just to really get started.
Go to IRS.gov/Forms to view, download, or print all of the forms and publications you may need. You can also download and view popular tax publications and instructions (including the 1040 instructions) on mobile devices as an eBook at no charge. Or, you can go to IRS.gov/OrderForms to place an order and have forms mailed to you within 10 business days.
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.

The new rules may not impact you much unless you have a sizeable passive investment portfolio in your corporation. Keep in mind that a $1 million corporate investment portfolio which  generates a 7% rate of return will generate $70,000 of return, but not all of that return may be taxable as a portion could be attributable to unrealized appreciation from stocks, for example.


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.
Start an affiliate marketing website: This passive income model works for individuals who already own a bog or website. Here, your business goal is to contact companies and offer to tout their products and services, usually for a fee or a commission, based on the number of page views you get. Studies show that more people spend time online and less watching TV or reading the newspaper. Take advantage of that leverage and earn income from the tens of thousands of companies who want to reach an audience - maybe your audience. Either reach out to companies directly or go through a site like ClickBank, which offers affiliate marketing opportunities.
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.

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.


The second withholding amount is for Medicare tax. This tax is 2.9 percent of all wages. Again, this tax is jointly the responsibility of the employee and the employer, with each paying 1.45 percent. Unlike the Social Security tax which has an earnings cap, this tax does not. Any wages or other forms of earned income are considered subject to this tax. If self-employed, you pay the full 2.9 percent. These payroll taxes are used to fund Social Security benefits and Medicare benefits.
Income from an oil or gas property if you treated any loss from a working interest in the property for any tax year beginning after 1986 as a nonpassive loss, as discussed in item (2) under Activities That Aren’t Passive Activities , earlier. This also applies to income from other oil and gas property the basis of which is determined wholly or partly by the basis of the property in the preceding sentence.
But then figure out your unique selling proposition, what advantage you can offer that the market currently lacks. “My advantage in the passive income marketing space is that I’m not afraid to share my failures or where my income comes from,” says Flynn, who details his impressive income every month. “Transparency is huge,” he says. Referring to the personal bio on his LEED exam site, he says, “You might think I’m not benefitting from putting my story on there, but it helps me establish a relationship with people there. I’m someone who went through the same experience people went through on the site.”
Take for example a situation where a CCPC earns rental income from its real estate properties which for this example qualifies as passive investment income and provides, at the same time, property management services that are characterized as active income. Under the current regime, a portion of the high corporate income tax paid by the corporation of 50% on its rental operations is accumulated in its RDTOH and will be refunded by the government only upon the payment of a dividend by the corporation to its individual shareholder. Given that an Eligible Dividend paid out of the property management services are taxed at a lower rate than would be a dividend paid out of the rental income, being a dividend that is not an Eligible Dividend, the company would decide to pay the Eligible Dividend and recover the RDTOH generated from its passive income. The profits generated from the rental operations could be paid to the shareholder the following year or two for example as a dividend that is not an Eligible Dividend, thus providing for a deferral of that additional 4% personal income tax.
I’m confused by your reference to passive income. Passive income doesn’t mean totally free money or money earned without work although you make several references to making money in your sleep without any effort. Now, I understand the concept of passive income but I have to believe that you must still work to obtain that passive investment/ income and then work to maintain it right? Owning a company, in itself, is a lot of work and is thus still considered a JOB right? It’s not till after a lot of blood sweat and tears that one can reach a point where they can say theyve achieved financial freedom with passive income. Maybe you can add a little clarity for me. I’m only in my beginning stages of real estate investing and read as much as I can to learn.
Case Schiller only tracks price appreciation of RE. RE as rental investment vehicle is measured primarily on rental yield or cap rate or some other measure. Price appreciation in that scenario is only a secondary means of growth, and arguably should be ignored as a predictor of returns when deciding on whether or not to invest in rentals. More important key performance indicators for rentals are net operating income and cash ROI. Appreciation, if it occurs, is a bonus.
The appeal of these passive income sources is that you can diversify across many small investments, rather than in a handful of large ones. When you invest directly in real estate, you have to commit a lot of capital to individual projects. When you invest in these crowdfunded investments, you can spread your money across many uncorrelated real estate ventures so individual investments don't cause significant issues.
Role of “real estate professional” can be well played by a non-working or stay-at-home spouse. If you’ve got one who’s willing of course. 🙂 Under current tax law, with a spouse/real estate professional materially participating in the rental property activities, the 3.8% Medicare tax (discussed in Section 1) can be entirely avoided. So, while there is a bit of burden in meeting the requirements, this could be a great play for a Doc and a real estate professional spouse who want to take unlimited real estate losses against regular earned income AND shelter any gains from the additional 3.8% tax.
This KB article is an excerpt from our book which is available in paperback from Amazon, as an eBook for Kindle and as a PDF from ClickBank. We used to publish with iTunes and Nook, but keeping up with two different formats was brutal. You can cruise through these KB articles, click on the fancy buttons below or visit our webpage which provides more information at-
Indeed, the tax deferral was seen by the government as so valuable that it took legislative steps in the 2018 federal budget to substantially reduce it in some circumstances. Beginning in 2019, the SBD limit will be reduced based on the amount of “adjusted aggregate investment income” (AAII) the CCPC earned in the prior year. AAII is effectively passive investment income — think interest, dividends and capital gains — with a few adjustments.
One way to make passive income with more involvement is to write and publish an e-book. Got some knowledge or a great story idea you’ve been itching to share? Put it all in a book and sell it online! If all goes well, you could be raking in the royalties for years to come. Of course, there is some considerable work involved in writing, publishing and selling a book. However the advent of self-publishing e-books makes this a considerably easier option than it used to be.
When I did her recent tax return she had $45,000 in passive losses from the rentals and $35,000 in income from her S-Corporation. I called her and found out how many hours she had only worked for three months in her S-Corp, which was less than 500/750 hours per year.  I changed the nature of the income from the S-Corporation to passive, thereby eating up the passive losses from the rental. 
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.
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."
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!
The same analysis would apply to a situation where a CCPC carrying on a real estate property realizes a capital gain upon the sale of one of its rental properties. The RDTOH generated from the capital gain, would now be refunded to the corporation only upon the payment of a dividend that is not an Eligible Dividend sourced from the passive income. As a result, the additional 4% personal income tax cannot be postponed at the individual level while having at the same time the corporation benefit from the RDTOH refund.
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.
According to Derek Wagar, a Tax Partner at Fuller Landau LLP in Toronto, if an investor is considering selling certain investments at a profit in the near future, it may make sense to trigger those gains gradually over several years (to the extent possible) as the new passive income rules come into effect in 2019 (based on 2018 passive income). Spreading out gains across tax years may allow your CCPC to preserve more of its SBD limit in future years.
First, ask yourself if your app idea is feasible. Will it make money? This information is completely free and available on every single app store. Browse the “Top Grossing” section of any category. Check the rankings. These rankings show you the market demand. It’s not rocket science, but this isn’t the first step that most people take. Do you already see your app idea? Don’t be discouraged if you do. This is the best way to see and know if that idea is making money. If your app idea is ranked in the top grossing, even better. Do you see less than 5 version of that app idea? Then you have a good shot in this market!
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.

For purposes of item (1), above, an item of deduction arises in the taxable year in which the item would be allowable as a deduction under the taxpayer's method of accounting if taxable income for all taxable years were determined without regard to the passive activity rules and without regard to the basis, excess farm loss, and at-risk limits. See Coordination with other limitations on deductions that apply before the passive activity rules , later.


Another way to generate passive income is to invest and be a silent partner in a business. This is very risky, but with risk comes the potential for high returns. For example, several years ago both Lyft and Uber were looking for private investors to invest in their companies. Today, they are worth billions - but you as an investor would only reap that benefit if they go public via an IPO, or get acquired. So, it's risky.
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