In this economy, it seems like more and more of us are looking for a way to earn passive income. Whether we need to pay off credit card debt or just need some extra cash, passive income could come in handy. But what is passive income exactly? Depending on who you ask, it may not be as “passive” as you think. Let’s take a look at what it is and the top ways to make it.
Thanks for writing this Mr. Samurai. I just got over the student loan hump but I feel pretty good about it at 27 having a graduate degree and being 100% debt free. Now that I’m on the other side it is good for my brain to absorb some of your knowledge regarding passive income investments. I love gleaning wisdom from older folks who have been there and done that. Mentors rock!
It was easier recouping the lost $60,000 in rental-property income than I expected. For so long, my primary mindset for passive income was rental income. Having $815,000 less mortgage debt but still generating roughly the same amount of passive income with a much larger cash balance feels great. Further, my passive-income portfolio got even more passive, which is good as a stay-at-home dad to a newborn.
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It may also be possible to stagger dispositions of investments between calendar years. For example, if there will already be more than $150,000 of AAII in one year, consider triggering additional capital gains in that year, rather than the next, if that might reduce AAII below the threshold in the next year. Conversely, you may wish to trigger capital gains or losses in a specific year because capital losses cannot be carried forward to a future year for purposes of reducing AAII. As a result, you may wish to realize capital losses and gains in the same taxation year.
Thanks for asking. https://passiveincomemd.com/what-is-passive-income/ gives a good summary of the definition I use. But in brief, it’s income that isn’t proportional to the time you physically put into acquiring it. It doesn’t mean it’s not without work or effort. It’s just that most of the work is done up front and it continues to pay off long after that initial effort. Real estate fits into that box. There’s definitely a spectrum but compared to what we do as doctors, where our compensation is directly linked to our time, most of these things are quite passive.
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.
If the result is net income, don’t enter any of the income or losses from the activity or property on Form 8582 or its worksheets. Instead, enter income or losses on the form and schedules you normally use. However, see Significant Participation Passive Activities , later, if the activity is a significant participation passive activity and you also have a net loss from a different significant participation passive activity.
I’m not sure they’re screwed. They’re playing by the same rules as the rest of us. We can all become a capitalist just like you and I are doing. In fact, that’s really the goal for most of us- get to a position where our capital can support us. If they have a particularly low income, they’re not paying income taxes anyway (see famous 47% comment which as near as I can tell was true of federal income taxes and will continue to be true, although perhaps with a slightly different number, under the proposed House plan.)
The IRS requires REITs to pay out at least 90% of its income to shareholders. Thus, REITs tend to be higher yield since a large fraction of the earnings come out as dividends, which may be beneficial for certain income oriented investors. The flipside is the tax cost for investing in REITs since income must be distributed and as a holder the taxes flow through to you.
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.
There are basically three types of income: earned, portfolio, and passive. When it comes to filing your tax return, each of these types of income are taxed differently. Therefore, it is worth understanding the difference between the three to minimize your tax burden. Below are the three types of income, how they are categorized, and the tax implications for each.
This passive income tax benefit is to account for the perceived loss in value associated with aging assets. If for nothing else, homes depreciate in value everyday in the eyes of the IRS. This is a way for homeowners to make up for allegedly lost capital. However, and this is the real kicker, while homes may depreciate in value in the eyes of the IRS, properties actually appreciate more often than they depreciate. More often than not, the loss never actually occurs. Homeowners are therefore able to take advantage of deductions without their asset depreciating. It’s almost too good to be true.
Many investors think that they need to quit their job to get started in real estate. Not true! Many investors successfully build large portfolios over the years while enjoying the stability of their full-time job. If that’s something you are interested in, then this investor’s story of how he built a real estate business while keeping his 9-5 might be helpful.
What are your thoughts on an Immediate Annuity as a passive income vehicle? I suppose it’s not a great investment since you never get your principal back, but the risk is zero and the cash flow is fairly good, approaching 6% currently. And, since you are guaranteed payments for life, you may not care that you never see your principal again anyway since you’ll be dead!
Non-fiction e-books that educate your potential audience on specific topics like finance, online marketing, and business are going to make you more money than fiction books. Of course, there are always exceptions and you could write the next Harry Potter book, but if you want to create some residual income opportunities quickly, I would suggest you go for what sells first!
Net royalty income from intangible property held by a pass-through entity in which you own an interest may be treated as nonpassive royalty income. This applies if you acquired your interest in the pass-through entity after the partnership, S corporation, estate, or trust created the intangible property or performed substantial services or incurred substantial costs for developing or marketing the intangible property.
But, you don't need to go further than that. You can simply write it and publish it and collect the income. That's all. Send out a couple emails to your list (if you have one) or post it on social media, and there you have it. Passive income. Now, the amount of income you receive depends on the quality of the book you've written. How well did you craft the message? How targeted was the information to your audience? It counts.
Real estate investors don’t get to enjoy that lower qualified dividends rate on their passive income, but they get something almost as good- depreciation. Now I’m of the school of thought that you get to take depreciation mostly because buildings and appliances really do depreciate, but even so, it gets pretty favorable tax treatment, particularly for a high earner. Depreciating your property allows you to defer taxes on them until you sell the property and the depreciation is recaptured. That deferral by itself is very useful, particularly if it allows you to defer it until such a time as you are in a lower bracket. You can also avoid that recapture completely by doing 1031 exchanges from one property to another until the owner dies and gets that step-up in basis at death. But wait, there’s more. That recapture tax rate maxes out at 25%, even if you’re in the 39.6% tax bracket.
However, self-publishing is a good option for generating passive income and fits very well with the “work-up-front, reap benefits later” model. It’s a ton of work to write a book, especially when you’re just getting everything like editing, formatting, cover design, and book descriptions all figured out. But, once you do all that work, you can upload it to Amazon and then hopefully keep earning commissions for months or even years.
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.
1. Interest: If the interest a landlord pays on their mortgage isn’t their biggest expense, it is certainly close to it. Even with rates as low as they are today, interest payments are a sizable cost that needs to be accounted for. Nonetheless, for as intimidating as interest payments can be, they are not without their benefits. Mortgage interest has become synonymous with one of the largest deductions landlords can make. Passive income investors can deduct mortgage interest payments on loans used to acquire or improve a rental property. However, it is important to note that they can also deduct the interest paid on credit cards specifically used to to maintain rental property activity.
The reason I consider dividends artificial and believe they don’t matter is because you can just as easily reinvest your dividends. If a stock is worth $100/share, I don’t care if it issues a $1/share dividend or if the share price instead increases to $101/share – either way, I have the same amount of money, because there’s no difference to my net worth whether I take the dividend or sell part of a stock.
However, this comes back to the old discussion of pain versus pleasure. We will always do more to avoid pain than we will to gain pleasure. When our backs are against the wall, we act. When they're not, we relax. The truth is that the pain-versus-pleasure paradigm only operates in the short term. We'll only avoid pain in the here and now. Often not in the long term.
Generally, rental activities are passive activities even if you materially participated in them. However, if you qualified as a real estate professional, rental real estate activities in which you materially participated aren’t passive activities. For this purpose, each interest you have in a rental real estate activity is a separate activity, unless you choose to treat all interests in rental real estate activities as one activity. See the Instructions for Schedule E (Form 1040), Supplemental Income and Loss, for information about making this choice.
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Which all goes back to my point – since companies change in a lot of unpredictable ways, it makes more sense for passive income to just ride the market by investing in a Total Domestic Stock Market, Total Bond Market, and Total International index funds, with allocations that depend on your goals and time horizon. For income, withdraw 4% or less, depending on what research you believe, and you’ve got a pretty low risk strategy.
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:
I guess I just don’t understand why the specific importance of focusing on “dividends” instead of focusing on the total return of your investment, including stock appreciation. I don’t really care if a company decides to issue a dividend or not; presumably, if they don’t issue a dividend, then they’re doing other things to increase the value of the company, which will be reflected in the stock price of the company. As an investor, I can make money by selling a percentage of my holdings or collecting dividends, and I don’t really care how that’s divided up – it’s an artificial distinction.
I have to agree. Our Duplex cost us 200k initially in 1998. Over time and completely refurbishing the property with historically appropriate sensitivity, we invested another 200k or so. We just had a realtor advise us we could ask 700k for it today. It nets us 30k annually after taxes, insurance and maintenance. We still have a loan on it which I have not taken into account, that will be paid off within 5 years if we keep it. My mental drama now is, while I am quite giddy over the prospect of earning a tidy sum of profit if I sell, what then would I do to equal the ROI and monthly income this thing generates? Rents are low, they should be 4k a month and will only go up. Tempted to keep it and not sell. And while I do have some stocks, I basically suck at them. I am much better at doing properties.
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.
If you like the “job” of wholesaling or flipping or landlording, or whatever it is you may be doing actively to earn income, rock on with it. Especially if you are using the income from that job to buy passive investments with, which is how one really becomes successful- find ways to fund buying passive investments that will lead you towards financial freedom. On that note too though, you can work any job or build a business to earn income that you can use to invest in passive investments. It doesn’t have to be flipping or wholesaling or landlording, albeit you do learn a lot about investing working those jobs, but it can be any job you want totally outside of real estate if you want it to be. Real estate is just a great way to earn some fat cash, which is why so many people stick with it. And if you do that, you are awesome still, as long as you realize you are working a job.
We have 1 rental at the moment and we are renovating the second one. Last year we generated over $14,000 net passive income (after mortgage payments and taxes) from one apartment, and all I had to do was go in to inspect the property 3 times to make sure the tenants weren’t destroying it! It turned out they kept it in perfect condition and they were lovely people! Call me lucky.
Making legitimate passive income isn’t as difficult as you might think. Some of the best passive income ideas might take a little time to set up but can start cash flowing within a couple of months and will provide a consistent monthly income for years or more. The most important point is just to get started. You make exactly $0 on the passive income sources you never start.
In most cases, any loss from an activity subject to the at-risk rules is allowed only to the extent of the total amount you have at risk in the activity at the end of the tax year. You are considered at risk in an activity to the extent of cash and the adjusted basis of other property you contributed to the activity and certain amounts borrowed for use in the activity. Any loss that is disallowed because of the at-risk limits is treated as a deduction from the same activity in the next tax year. See Pub. 925 for a discussion of the at-risk rules.
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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.
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.
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.
Logan is a CPA with a Masters Degree in Taxation from the University of Southern California. He has been featured in publications such as Debt.com. He has nearly 10 years of public accounting experience, including 5 with professional services firm Ernst & Young where he consulted with multinational companies and high net worth individuals on their tax situations. He launched Money Done Right in 2017 to communicate modern ideas on earning, saving, and investing money.
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.
One of the things I'm surprised your article doesn't mention is the tax advantages of this type of investment. The depreciation and rehab costs (purchasing distressed properties) can be huge deductions to ones income taxes, which none of the others have. Then, along with the appreciation of real estate, this passive income investment outperforms the notion of maxing out my 401k as well.
If you know anything well, a place, how to fix something, how to make something, how to do something, you can write a guide for it. You can sell your guide as an e-book, offer it as a download for a fee on your site or reach out to bloggers with similar content and ask if they will offer it as a paid download on their website (for a price of course).