Dan Caplinger has been a contract writer for the Motley Fool since 2006. As the Fool's Director of Investment Planning, Dan oversees much of the personal-finance and investment-planning content published daily on Fool.com. With a background as an estate-planning attorney and independent financial consultant, Dan's articles are based on more than 20 years of experience from all angles of the financial world. Follow @DanCaplinger
In 2012, even I wrote a 150-page eBook about severance package negotiations that still regularly sells about ~35 copies a month at $85 each (2nd edition for 2017) without any effort. In order to generate $2,975 a month or $35,700 a year in passive income as I do now, I would need to invest $892,500 in something that generates a 4% yield! To earn $10,000 a year in passive income would therefore need roughly $250,000 in capital.
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.
Well written piece, but I question the core premise. Why the fascination with maximizing “income” (passive or otherwise). Shouldn’t the goal simply be to maximize long-term after tax growth of your entire portfolio? If this takes the form of dividend paying stocks, so be it. But what if small caps are poised to outperform? What if you want to take Buffet’s or Bogle’s advice and just buy a broad market index like the S&P 500, (no matter what the dividend because you’ll just have it automatically reinvested to avoid the transaction fees).

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).
Hey Mike! Love this article. Recently, I paid off my student loans and am crazy focused on creating multiple passive income streams. Currently, all my passive income comes from real estate and because of your great articles on the subject I called to check out refinance options! I had no clue about CD laddering, dividend investing or P2P lending until two weeks ago when I started doing my research on where to put my hard earned money. I had been just saving it but when I looked at the terrible 0.01% return I said forget it! 2 % for me is a great way to start. It is better than what I have been getting outside of my real estate. Also, creating products is a must! I’m working on this type of royalty too. I find it so exciting to learn how to use your money to make money. Thanks and I will be sure to link to you when I start my blog!

Mike, I don’t consider the income from FS to be passive, as I’m spending time commenting to you right now. But since 75% of my traffic comes from search, the most traffic I would probably lose is 25% for probably a year. And then my search word rankings would probably slowly fade given frequency of posting new content is one of the search algo variables.
Passive income tax benefits have the potential to turn a good rental property into a great one. However, as I said before, nobody is going to hold your hand and tell you to claim the appropriate deductions; you need to make sure you know what is within your legal right to deduct. I encourage all passive income investors to consult a certified public accountant (CPA) to confirm that they are, in fact, taking advantage of all the deductions made available. Please take note of the passive income tax benefits you qualify for and see to it they contribute to your bottom line instead of taking away from 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.
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.

If you have a spare bedroom, you can find a roommate or list the space on AirBnB for travelers. Having a roommate is the more passive of the two, as being an Airbnb host will require more work in the form of turning over the room between stays. This is a super painless way to earn $500 to $1,000 a month without much effort – you may even be able to cover your mortgage payment with this extra income!
Another common way to earn passive income is to invest in real estate. This does involve some hefty investment on your part to get started, though, since real estate doesn’t come cheap. The goal is to earn enough back by renting out the property to not only cover your original investment, but to also turn a profit. Keep in mind that similar to letting your room through Airbnb, this venture may require some time and money to maintain. Plus, you will have to rely on others and tenants to keep the property in good shape.
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.
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.
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.
If you don’t want to write the book yourself, you can also hire a ghostwriter through various online sites like Upwork, Freelancer.com etc. writing is the best passive income ideas for 2018. See my Kindle Direct Publishing Portfolio HERE. Selling your eBook can be a great way to earn passive income forever once it’s released. You need to take significant time to make sure it is high-quality. Also, you will need to spend time promoting your eBook.

Mike, I don’t consider the income from FS to be passive, as I’m spending time commenting to you right now. But since 75% of my traffic comes from search, the most traffic I would probably lose is 25% for probably a year. And then my search word rankings would probably slowly fade given frequency of posting new content is one of the search algo variables.
What about getting hit with AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax) in cases your passive income / capital gains are too high? I’m not that familiar with the details of AMT, but I got hit with AMT one time due to an “exercise and hold” of ISOs (stock options). My CPA explained it’s another method of calculating my tax liability, and in cases I gain too much capital gains, the IRS may treat and tax them as ordinary income.

If you are too risk-averse to engage in stock trading, there’s a much safer option to earn passive income, albeit with much lower margins of return: certificates of deposit or fixed deposits issued by banks. These financial vehicles are similar to mini investments. CDs work very similar to savings accounts with one notable difference. Once you place a deposit, it cannot be withdrawn until the certificate matures. You can obtain these certificates for lump sums of cash that you can allow to mature within time periods like 2 years or 5 years. The advantage of CDs is that they offer higher interest rates than regular savings accounts. You can rest assured that the money will be safe in the bank. A CD earns interest quarterly or annually and all you have to do is just sit back and wait for it to mature.
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.
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I wanted these freedoms so I began pursuing a means to have those, which in my case ended up being starting my own company that I could work from anywhere and with no deadlines whatsoever (although the no deadline thing does make things hard sometimes). The income from that company is planned to continue buying more passive income investments so eventually I hit total financial freedom where I can keep living my current lifestyle minus the work part. All of this is called “lifestyle design.”
Ask yourself how many hours a week do you spend sitting in silence, coming up with an idea and working on your idea? We’re so busy with our jobs that our childhood creativity sadly vanishes at some point in our lives. There are food bloggers who clear over $15,000 a month. There are lifestyle bloggers who make over $10,000 a month while living in Thailand. And there are even personal finance bloggers who’ve sold their sites for multi-millions.

Index funds provide you with a way to invest in the stock market that is completely passive. For example, if you invest money in an index fund that is based on the S&P 500 Index, you will be invested in the general market, without having to concern yourself with choosing investments, rebalancing your portfolio, or knowing when to sell or buy individual companies. All that will be handled by the fund which will base the fund portfolio on the makeup of the underlying index.
Passive activity income often gets very different tax treatment from the ordinary income that people have. In particular, passive losses are typically deductible only against passive income, and you're not able to claim excess passive losses immediately, instead having to carry them forward. It's therefore vital to understand the tax rules surrounding passive activity income in order to assess investments in passive activities correctly.
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.

Because passive investors’ rentals are viewed as secondary income, they can only deduct the normal costs associated with their rental properties. They cannot deduct any home office expenses and are limited on how much they can deduct from any losses they might incur. As of 2010, you can only deduct up to $3,000 from your other active income like your job or employment.
Haha, that is too funny. I wanted to make an app back in the day called “MyShares” (You can probably tell how I cam up with the name at the time). The idea was that I would loan out books and DVD’s and then would never get them back. Then I thought, how cool would it be if I could rent those items out and that would motivate people to bring them back. Obviously, books and DVD’s are cheap, so this isn’t the money maker. The idea that would probably make the most money would be things like tools, ATVs, etc.
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