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.
Also, financial freedom is different for every person – that’s where lifestyle design comes in. If you determine that you need $4,000 or $8,000/month (your financial limit, as you called it) to allow you to never have to work again and live the kind of life you want, then you have achieved financial freedom through lifestyle design when your passive investments produce that income. It’s a very straight forward concept, and tons of investors have proved it’s doable.
Finally, I imagine the biggest debate with my ranking is Creating Your Own Product as the #1 passive income source. If most people have never created their own product, then it’s easy to give it a thumbs down. There won’t be much complaint about Private Equity Investing being in last place because most people are not accredited investors. But given I believe that plenty of people can create their own product if they try, pushback is inevitable because a lot of people simply don’t try!
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.
Yes, I meant that the non-working spouse would have to be wiling to become a working real estate professional – which certainly may not be an ideal solution for every couple in every circumstance. But, I was able to raise our kids while managing our rental properties as a licensed real estate professional and was always happy for the bumped-up tax benefits. No doubt, though, I was working!
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You’re at risk for amounts borrowed to use in the activity if you’re personally liable for repayment. You’re also at risk if the amounts borrowed are secured by property other than property used in the activity. In this case, the amount considered at risk is the net fair market value of your interest in the pledged property. The net fair market value of property is its fair market value (determined on the date the property is pledged) less any prior (or superior) claims to which it’s subject. However, no property will be taken into account as security if it’s directly or indirectly financed by debt that’s secured by property you contributed to the activity.
Any passive activity losses (but not credits) that haven’t been allowed (including current year losses) generally are allowed in full in the tax year you dispose of your entire interest in the passive (or former passive) activity. However, for the losses to be allowed, you must dispose of your entire interest in the activity in a transaction in which all realized gain or loss is recognized. Also, the person acquiring the interest from you must not be related to you.

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."
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.

Those who don't meet this test can qualify for a limited $25,000 allowance for losses if they qualify as an active participant. Active participation requires only limited activities, such as approving new tenants, setting rental terms, and approving payouts. If you qualify, you can then take up to that limited amount of loss each year, carrying over any excess losses until you generate rental income to offset it.
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.

If you are not a real estate professional but oversee your rental real estate, your revenue qualifies as a different type of passive income and you might be able to claim a portion of any losses against active income. As of the 2018 tax season, you can write off up to $25,000 a year in rental real estate losses if your Adjusted Gross Income is $100,000 or less. If your AGI is over the threshold, the size of the loss you can claim goes down by 50 cents for every dollar of income. At an AGI of $150,000, you no longer can take the passive loss against other income.
For those willing to take on the task of managing a property, real estate can be a powerful semi-passive income stream due to the combination of rental and principal value appreciation. But to generate passive income from real estate, you either have to rent out a room in your house, rent out your entire house and rent elsewhere (seems counterproductive), or buy a rental property. It’s important to realize that owning your primary residence means you are neutral the real estate market. Renting means you are short the real estate market, and only after buying two or more properties are you actually long real estate.

I knew I didn't want to work 70 hours a week in finance forever. My body was breaking down, and I was constantly stressed. As a result, I started saving every other paycheck and 100% of my bonus since my first year out of college in 1999. By the time 2012 rolled around, I was earning enough passive income (about $78,000) to negotiate a severance and be free.


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 >


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.
As a general rule, the passive activity loss rules are applied at the individual level. Although Internal Revenue Code Section 469 was enacted to discourage abusive tax shelters, its impact extends far beyond shelters to virtually every business or rental activity whether reported on Schedules C, F, or E, as well as to flow through income and losses from partnerships, S- Corporations, and trusts. Generally, the law does not apply to regular C-Corporations although it does have limited application to closely held corporations.
This publication discusses two sets of rules that may limit the amount of your deductible loss from a trade, business, rental, or other income-producing activity. The first part of the publication discusses the passive activity rules. The second part discusses the at-risk rules. However, when you figure your allowable losses from any activity, you must apply the at-risk rules before the passive activity rules.
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.
Portfolio income. This includes interest, dividends, annuities, and royalties not derived in the ordinary course of a trade or business. It includes gain or loss from the disposition of property that produces these types of income or that’s held for investment. The exclusion for portfolio income doesn’t apply to self-charged interest treated as passive activity income. For more information on self-charged interest, see Self-charged interest , earlier.
Even if you’re personally liable for the repayment of a borrowed amount or you secure a borrowed amount with property other than property used in the activity, you aren’t considered at risk if you borrowed the money from a person having an interest in the activity or from someone related to a person (other than you) having an interest in the activity. This doesn’t apply to:
A planning opportunity may be available by converting a primary residence into rental real estate.  For example, Mary purchases a condo in 2010 and in 2013 decides to upgrade into a single family home.  She rents out the condo to earn some money.  Due to recent developments in the area, the condo is now worth much more and she sells it for a gain of $100,000.  Since Mary lived in the home for 2 out of the past 5 years, the entire gain is excluded from income.  The 2 year rule can occur anytime during the 5 year period and does not have to be consecutive.  Keep in mind though that if you do the opposite and convert rental property to a primary residence, the rules are more complex and the gain exclusion tends to be limited.
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.

If you are going to take the after-tax business income out of the company in the year it’s earned, then you’re not enjoying any tax deferral and the loss of the SBD is likely immaterial. If, on the other hand, the after-tax corporate income is retained in the corporation and not paid out as a dividend until a future year, then losing the deferral available on SBD income could be material.


Let’s take a look at a smaller and more niche category for the sake of our discussion. We’ll look at “Food & Drink” on the iOS app store. Less big companies and less noise in these smaller categories. You can see the top grossing app is eMeals. A meal planning and grocery shopping list app. Number 5 is another meal planning app. Even has the same green icon. See a trend here? You’ll also see that 16 out of the top 24 grossing apps are “freemium” apps. Meaning, their business model is to give an app away for free and up-sell upgrades.

One of the most appealing options, particularly for millennials, would be #12 on your list (create a Blog/Youtube channel). The videos can be about anything that interests you, from your daily makeup routine (with affiliate links to the products you use), recipes (what you eat each day) or as you mention, instructional videos (again with affiliate links to the products you use). Once you gain a large following and viewership, you can earn via Adsense on YouTube.
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