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.
In order not to succumb to that, Flynn says it’s important to know your motivation. “Passive income is important to me not just for the financial security but so I can spend time with my family,” he says. “I’ve been able to work from home and witness all my kids’ firsts. I have a one-year-old and a four-year-old, and that's what drives me and gets me pushing through those hard times and why I keep creating new products and why I want to help other people do the same thing.”
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!
Real estate crowdfunding presents a middle-ground solution. Investors have their choice of equity or debt investments in both commercial and residential properties. Unlike a REIT, the investor gets the tax advantages of direct ownership, including the depreciation deduction without any of the added responsibilities that go along with owning a property.
I am 30 years old and am retired. Previously, I made a modest salary as an Army officer. I own three duplexes and a quadplex in central Texas (10 rental units in all), and each of the properties provide me with net rental yields in excess of 15%. The last deal is actually an infinite return as my partner paid the down payment in return for a 50/50 split on a property that would otherwise provide a net rental yield of 18%. The above net rental yields also factor in an excellent property management team who manages my properties while I pursue other investment opportunities. To date, I have never interacted with any of my tenants nor have I ever had to personally deal with any maintenance issues.
The K-1 stated that the income was from a trade or business and included self-employment tax. Dr. Hardy's ownership interest in MBJ was not grouped with his medical practice activity, and the grouping regulations were not considered. In 2008, their CPA determined that the income from MBJ was passive and started to report it accordingly. He determined this because he learned that Dr. Hardy was not involved in any management of MBJ and was not liable for the debts of the company. He did not amend the 2006 and 2007 returns because he believed the difference was immaterial. In 2008 through 2010 the Hardy’s reported the MBJ income as passive and claimed an allowed loss.
Self-rental situations are not just limited to buildings. You could lease your car to your S corporation. No, this isn’t the same as leasing a car from a dealership. This is where you own a piece of equipment, let’s say an automobile, and you lease it back to your business for your business’s use. Sounds exotic, but it is quite simple. More about this in a later chapter dedicated to fringe benefits and tax deductions.
One aspect you might want to add to your scoring is “inflation protection”. At one end, bonds and CDs generally pay a fixed nominal coupon that doesn’t rise with inflation. Stock dividends and Real estate rents (and underlying property value) tend to. Not reallly sure how P2P lending ranks- though I suppose the timeframes are fairly short (1 year or less?) and therefore the interest you receive takes into account the current risk free rate + a premium for your risk. Now that I think about it, P2P lending probably deserves a lower score in the activity column than bonds too (since you probably need to make new loans more often).
As a matter of background, Finance wanted to address the alleged tax loophole benefit of using a CCPC for retaining income to simply build investment portfolios not used in the business. To illustrate this benefit, let’s assume that Ms. Shareholder owns all the shares of a CCPC. That CCPC employs a large group to manage real estate property and earns $100 of what the tax law perceives as active income. The earnings for the corporation would be subject to a combined federal and Quebec income tax rate of 26.7% (assuming the small business deduction is not applicable in this instance). If in place of the CCPC, the same individual hired employees herself, the $100 of active income she would earn would be subject to a combined federal and Quebec personal top marginal rate of 53.53%. This difference in tax rates provides the corporation with approximately $26.83 of tax deferral than that earned by the individual.
In January 2018, I missed my chance of raising the rent on my new incoming tenants because it didn't come to mind until very late in the interview process. I didn't write about my previous tenant's sudden decision to move out in December 2017 after 1.5 years, because they provided a relatively seamless transition by introducing their longtime friends to replace them. I didn't miss a month of rent and didn't have to do any marketing, so I felt I'd just keep the rent the same.
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.
For 2017, passive income that is taxed as ordinary income will be taxed in the 2017 tax brackets, and so the income tax rates range from 10 to 39.6 percent depending on your annual income. Long-term capital gains and qualified dividends are taxed at zero, 15 and 20 percent for 2017, but the brackets are different. So you can earn up to $37,950 in the 2017 tax year without paying taxes on these gains; if you earn between $37,950 and $418,400, the gains are taxed at 15 percent; and if you earn more than $418,400, your gains are taxed at 20 percent.
5. Depreciation: Otherwise known as depreciation losses, depreciation tax write-offs are essentially the most important tax deduction in a passive income investor’s arsenal. As their name suggests, depreciation losses permit the owners of rental properties to write off the cost of the home over a predetermined period of time. The subject property is essentially a business expense, and therefore can be written off.
We’ve discussed how to get started building passive income for financial freedom in a previous post. Now I’d like to rank the various passive income streams based on risk, return, and feasibility. The rankings are somewhat subjective, but they are born from my own real life experiences attempting to generate multiple types of passive income sources over the past 16 years.
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.
I actually spent a year and a half working as an affiliate marketer (mostly selling drumming related products – lessons, kits ect). 5 years on and one of my one page sites (which I’ve not touched) still nets me about $150 a month. I won’t be retiring off that but only really now appreciate the reverse pyramid approach to entrepreneurship (working for nothing initially but later being paid without effort!)
When I purchase an existing online business, I look for cash flow over the past year and where the money comes from. I want the sources to be more passive so that it does not take a lot of my time. Also, typically I will make an offer that is 18 – 24 months of profit so that I know that I will get my money back within the next two years. I hope that helps!