Passive income investments can make an investor's life easier in many ways, particularly when a hands-off approach is preferred. The four options outlined here represent differing levels of diversification and risk. As with any investment, it's important to weigh the anticipated returns associated with a passive income opportunity against the potential for loss.
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Craig W. Smalley, MST, EA, has been in practice since 1994. He has been admitted to practice before the IRS as an enrolled agent and has a master's in taxation. He is well-versed in US tax law and US Tax Court cases. He specializes in taxation, entity structuring and restructuring, corporations, partnerships, and individual taxation, as well as representation before the IRS regarding negotiations, audits, and appeals. In his many years of practice, he has been exposed to a variety of businesses and has an excellent knowledge of most industries. He is the CEO and co-founder of CWSEAPA PLLC and Tax Crisis Center LLC; both business have locations in Florida, Delaware, and Nevada. Craig is the current Google small business accounting advisor for the Google Small Business Community. He is a contributor to AccountingWEB and Accounting Today, and has had 12 books published on various topics in taxation. His articles have also been featured in the Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, and several other newspapers, periodicals, and magazines. He has been interviewed and been a featured guest on many radio shows and podcasts. Finally, he is the co-host of Tax Avoidance is Legal, which is a nationally broadcast weekly Internet radio show.
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."
But, wait: nothing is ever that easy; And, there's no such thing as 100 percent passive income. Building passive income actually requires hustle and an investment of time upfront to get your money off the ground and growing while you eat, sleep and play. Maintaining that growth means making sure that you're using the right tools and strategies to automate the work for you.
I have already come up with 50 ways that a management company can screw you for profit without you ever knowing(or not finding out for awhile). Did you have an inspection before you made an offer on the property? Do you have a picture of the property you bought? How do you know if that picture shows the house you actually own? or if it even hows the ‘current’ state of the house you own?
Build an investment portfolio that pays out dividends (Stocks / Bonds / Mutual Funds). Dividends are payouts that companies give to their investors as a portion of their earnings. They’re often paid out quarterly. If you’ve already got an investment portfolio, it’s time to take a good look at which stocks, bonds, or mutual funds you own. You’ll see consistent returns from the ones that pay dividends. This is a fantastic way to earn passive income. Invest once and watch the returns pile up.
There was a time when CDs would produce a respectable 4%+ yield. Nowadays, you’ll be lucky to find a 5-7 year CD that provides anything above 2.5% The great thing about CDs is that there are no income or net worth minimums to invest, unlike many alternative investments, which require investors to be accredited. Anybody can go to their local bank and open up a CD of their desired duration. Furthermore, a CD is FDIC insured for up to $250,000 per individual, and $500,000 per joint account.
It’s obvious that stocks outperform real estate in terms of capital gains, but I would like to see S&P compare to Real Estate in SF, Manhattan, LA. Our house in NC was $80,000 20 years ago. It’s only $150,000 now. Same house in Santa Monica went from $200,000 to $1.8 million. People who happen to bought real estate in major metropolitan would have a natural positive association with real estate investment.
In 2017, I ended up deploying roughly $611,000 into stocks and $604,327 into municipal bonds. The stock allocation should boost dividend income by about $12,500 a year, and the municipal-bond portion should boost income by about $18,000 a year after tax ($26,000 pre-tax). Therefore, total passive income gets an about $38,500 lift, which recovers over half of my $60,000 loss from selling the house.
I've now only got an SF rental condo and a Lake Tahoe vacation rental in my real-estate-rental portfolio. Although I miss my old house, I certainly don't miss paying $23,000 a year in property taxes and another mortgage, and dealing with leaks and managing terrible tenants. I drove by the other day and couldn't believe how much noisier and busier the street was than where I currently live. I wouldn't be comfortable raising my son there.

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2. Repairs: Slightly more ambiguous than their interest deduction counterpart, repairs can only be deducted in the event that they are ordinary, necessary, and reasonable in amount. That said, repairs can only be deducted in the year in which they are made. Common repairs that can be deducted from your taxes come April are fixing leaks, repainting, plastering, replacing broken windows and fixing floors.

​If you pay your bills with a credit card make sure it offers cash back rewards. You can let your rewards accrue for a while and possibly put the easy money you earned toward another passive income venture! (Be sure that the card you select doesn’t have an annual fee or you might be cancelling out your rewards). Check out this list of the best Cashback Rewards Cards.


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.
Three full-time nonowner employees whose services were directly related to the business. A nonowner employee is an employee who doesn’t own more than 5% in value of the outstanding stock of the corporation at any time during the tax year. (The rules for constructive ownership of stock in section 318 of the Internal Revenue Code apply. However, in applying these rules, an owner of 5% or more, rather than 50% or more, of the value of a corporation's stock is considered to own a proportionate share of any stock owned by the corporation.)
Active investors are those who operate their investment properties as a business. The majority of their annual earnings come from their rental properties and they spend 750 or more hours throughout the tax year operating the property as a business. Active investors are also termed “real estate professionals” by the IRS, since their rental property businesses are considered their primary occupation.

Hello from the UK! Fundrise and Wealthfront are only available to US residents it seems :(. Any other readers from the UK here? The only thing I have managed to do from Sam’s list is getting a fixed rate bond (CBS is having a 5-year fixed rate at 2.01% – not great but the best I could find ). Don’t know if the FIRE movement will ever take off here but would love to trade tips/ideas on how to reach FI and have the freedom to consider alternative rythms to living.
In 2017, I ended up deploying roughly $611,000 into stocks and $604,327 into municipal bonds. The stock allocation should boost dividend income by about $12,500 a year, and the municipal-bond portion should boost income by about $18,000 a year after tax ($26,000 pre-tax). Therefore, total passive income gets an about $38,500 lift, which recovers over half of my $60,000 loss from selling the house.
Like many of the people, you probably think that you need a lot of money to get stated in the stock market, no it is not true. Of course, it is better if you have a nice amount of money to invest, but our goal here is to create passive income, we want our money to work for us. Unlike day trader, the stock market won’t be our primary financial activity; we will just try to create passive income sources.
It is helpful to have an understanding of the bigger tax items – basis and depreciation.  Basis is the cost or purchase price of the property minus the value of the land (note: you cannot depreciate land).  The depreciation deduction you can take on residential real estate per year is the basis (cost less land) divided by 27.5.  Depreciation is a great tax deduction you can take every year but will affect your gain or loss when you sell the property.
Herbert and Wilma file a joint return, so they’re treated as one taxpayer for purposes of the passive activity rules. The same owner (Herbert and Wilma) owns both Healthy Food and Plum Tower with the same ownership interest (100% in each). If the grouping forms an appropriate economic unit, as discussed earlier, Herbert and Wilma can group Plum Tower's grocery store rental and Healthy Food's grocery business into a single trade or business activity.
The IRS defines depreciation losses as “allowances for exhaustion, wear and tear (including obsolescence) of property.” According to their website, “You begin to depreciate your rental property when you place it in service. You can recover some or all of your original acquisition cost and the cost of improvements by using Form 4562, Depreciation and Amortization, (to report depreciation) beginning in the year your rental property is first placed in service, and beginning in any year you make improvements or add furnishings.”
Another form of passive income can come from investing in private equity opportunities in businesses that are growing.  There are certain limitations on who can invest, but can be a great way to generate passive income from profits in a business that you have very little if any active role in.  If you invest in and now own part of the business, and it is successful, you would then be entitled to regular profits from the business, and potentially even a great return on your original investment.  You can do this by either purchasing some of the business with your money, or lending your money at a certain interest rate to the business.

Are you totally convinced that I have completely diverged from talking about active vs. passive income? I don’t blame you. I would have forgotten about those by now too. But let’s bring them back now. Ok, how do those relate to lifestyle design? Well, I’m assuming we have established that your personal lifestyle design does not involve working, correct? Do you remember which kind of income requires you to work for it? Active income. So then for complete lifestyle design, do you want to have to rely on any active income? No. You only want passive income because passive income doesn’t require much, if any, work on your part. Then you are free to travel or play or watch TV all you want.

“Where a lot of people mess up is they try to build a business or create a product that serves everybody, and by trying to serve everybody, you serve nobody. You have to specialize and niche down and find a market with a pain point that you, based on your experience, based on your education and based on your passion, can help,” he says. Your earnings will directly reflect how well you serve that particular audience, and the more your message resonates with them, the more opportunities you’ll have to sell to them.


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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.
Or you could do joint ventures/strategic alliances for your business or for other businesses and make residual cash flow for $0 investment.. that’s what I do lol. No money, no risk, little time, 20+ years working from home. Just connect companies and take a %, use the Internet to do it locally or globally, be the intermediary & connect companies…. ;-)
Use your base to build your audience, and when you’re starting out, take advantage of the fact that you don’t have a big following to give more personalized help to your first fans. “The people who are starting out — that’s their advantage,” says Flynn. “They have the opportunity to speak directly with those people few coming their way to find out what their problems are and give them the special treatment that bigger brands might not be able to do.”
Wow! What an awesome list! My favorite is the stock photography because I love photography. I have had some success there, particularly with one photo I make some decent income from. I think the key with stock photography is finding a shot that is high demand. Then, find a new unique way to frame that shot. This is the reason my St. Louis Arch photo is a top 10 on both ShutterStock and iStockPhoto. Thanks for the awesome ideas above!
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