The U.S. Internal Revenue Service categorizes income into three broad types, active income, passive income, and portfolio income.[1] It defines passive income as only coming from two sources: rental activity or "trade or business activities in which you do not materially participate."[2][3] Other financial and government institutions also recognize it as an income obtained as a result of capital growth or in relation to negative gearing. Passive income is usually taxable.


The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities, and limited-English-speaking taxpayers who need help preparing their own tax returns. The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program offers free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those who are 60 years of age and older. TCE volunteers specialize in answering questions about pensions and retirement-related issues unique to seniors.
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!
Writing an e-book is very popular among bloggers, as many have noted that “it's just a bunch of blog posts put together!” You will not only have to make an investment of time and energy to create the e-book, but market it correctly. However, if marketed correctly (through blogging affiliates in your niche, for example), you could have residual sales that last a very long time.
According to Uncle Sam, you need to be "materially involved" in an enterprise to earn active income. With passive income, it's just the opposite, as the IRS deems you to be earning passive income if you're not materially involved with a profit-making enterprise. By and large, expect income to be taxable if you are engaged in a passive income enterprise. You will need to report earnings to the IRS.
More good news. The LLC’s activities are considered self-rental activities which means that you are creating a transaction with yourself. Provided that this arrangement is at market rates, the IRS accepts this relationship. Moreover, the self-rental income is not considered passive and therefore not subjected to the Net Investment Income Tax calculations.
But, if you’re serious about making money online and generating some passive income for yourself, keep reading for some ideas on how to do that. It is possible, but it does take some serious effort and knowledge. The good news is that starting is the most important thing and you can learn all you need to as you stumble along. I started from ground zero 1.5 years ago and now I earn around $1000/month in passive income.
“The biggest surprise is real estate being second to last on my Passive Income Ranking List because I’ve written that real estate is my favorite investment class to build wealth. Real estate doesn’t stack up well against the other passive income sources due to the lack of liquidity and constant maintenance of tenants and property. The returns can be huge due to rising rental income AND principal over time, much like dividend investing. If you are a “proactive passive income earner” like myself, then real estate is great.”
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.
Lauren Perez, CEPF® Lauren Perez writes on a variety of personal finance topics for SmartAsset, with a special expertise in savings, banking and credit cards. She is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance® (CEPF®) and a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. Lauren has a degree in English from the University of Rochester where she focused on Language, Media and Communications. She is originally from Los Angeles. While prone to the occasional shopping spree, Lauren has been aware of the importance of money management and savings since she was young. Lauren loves being able to make credit card and retirement account recommendations to friends and family based on the hours of research she completes at SmartAsset.
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.

In identifying the items of deduction and loss from an activity that aren’t disallowed under the basis and at-risk limitations (and that therefore may be treated as passive activity deductions), you needn’t account separately for any item of deduction or loss unless such item may, if separately taken into account, result in an income tax liability different from that which would result were such item of deduction or loss taken into account separately.
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.
Most customers agree that the passive income provides helpful ideas, that someone interested in exploring passive income can benefit from. They say that the passive income is good resource and it is an awesome book. A few also found that the passive income is easy to read and understand. Without any doubt, this product passed the test and had very satisfied buyers eager to share their experience.
The major problem with network marketing in Nigeria is the way many people go about implementing it. Most people focus on introducing more people to a network without properly training their downlines or providing them any support. The result is that only the experienced people at the top of the network make money while the others feel their way in the dark, wondering which step to take.
Qualified dividends are taxed the same as long-term capital gains. In 2018, you can earn up to $38,600 in ordinary income without being taxed on long-term capital gains or qualified dividends. If you earn between $38,600 and $425,800 in ordinary income, your long-term capital gains tax rate is 15 percent, which would also apply to qualified dividends. If you make more than $425,800, the rate is 20 percent.
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!)
Another way to obtain real estate exposure in your portfolio is through the purchase of Real Estate Investment Trusts or REITs.  A REIT is a company that owns or finances income- producing real estate.  REITs are usually structured as a mutual fund so you can purchase REITs on major stock exchanges and offer several benefits such as real estate exposure, diversification, low correlation with financial assets, and potentially higher income than regular equities.
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.
Are you doing it just for the money?  It has been my experience, and that of many others, if your reasons for, well, doing almost anything, are genuine, that it will be evident in all that you do.  If you are looking to generate passive income, then do so from a place of wanting to help people.  To improve people’s lives.  If you have a passion and desire to help people realize their hopes, dreams and goals, you almost certainly will make money doing it.
Nonetheless, there is still benefit to capturing the losses on a tax return.  When you sell a primary residence, up to $500,000 of capital gain for a married couple ($250,000 for a single person) may be excluded.  Unfortunately, rental properties are not awarded this gain exclusion.  Instead, any losses that the property generates over the years can be accumulated and offset with the gain upon disposition.
Most people think about building a site to make money and passive income. But you actually can buy an existing website to make a passive income. I have many friends who don’t like to write and create content for their website, so they just pay people to do that for them. They only care about SEO, and they want it to be well ranked in Google. It’s entirely ok, but if you don’t want to be a website creator and entrepreneur, you can buy a website and manage it like a business.
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.
Month 6: Check your account. Use that $5000 to buy VT or BND, making sure that the 70-30% ratio stays the same. This will force you to buy low. The theory is that stocks and bonds generally have an inverse relationship. If stocks have gone down over the past six months, bonds likely have gone up. This means that you’ll have to buy more stocks than bonds in order to keep the 70-30% ratio, which is good because stocks are probably “cheap,” while bonds are “expensive.”

Virtual assistants can do anything that doesn’t require a physical presence: Scheduling appointments, making calls, sending emails, creating and processing invoices and general project management can all be done virtually. And tasks beyond administrative work are possible, too: Virtual assistants can be trained for customer prospecting and other key business operations. In short, it’s worth learning how to use their talents to your benefit.


If you sell your entire interest in a passive activity through an installment sale to figure the loss for the current year that isn’t limited by the passive activity rules, multiply your overall loss (not including losses allowed in prior years) by a fraction. The numerator of the fraction is the gain recognized in the current year, and the denominator is the total gain from the sale minus all gains recognized in prior years.

Most people think about building a site to make money and passive income. But you actually can buy an existing website to make a passive income. I have many friends who don’t like to write and create content for their website, so they just pay people to do that for them. They only care about SEO, and they want it to be well ranked in Google. It’s entirely ok, but if you don’t want to be a website creator and entrepreneur, you can buy a website and manage it like a business.


Virtual assistants can do anything that doesn’t require a physical presence: Scheduling appointments, making calls, sending emails, creating and processing invoices and general project management can all be done virtually. And tasks beyond administrative work are possible, too: Virtual assistants can be trained for customer prospecting and other key business operations. In short, it’s worth learning how to use their talents to your benefit.

Starting a blog is one of the most popular side hustles to earn online income. This is because whether you have 10 people or 10 million reading your content, the amount of your effort to write an article is the same. Websites have low start-up costs and you can literally buy your domain, launch your site and have a few pages created in less than an hour. You won’t start making money right away, but you will be building towards that first $1 of income.
My favorite type of semi-passive income was rental property because it was a tangible asset that provided reliable income. As I grew older, my interest in rental property waned because I no longer had the patience and time to deal with maintenance issues and tenants. Online real estate became more attractive, along with tax-free municipal-bond income once rates started to rise.
Good ranking FS, I’d have to agree with the rankings. And it looks like your portfolio covers five of the six! Some people consider real estate passive will others classify it as active. But every scenario is different, whether you are doing all the maintenance and managing yourself, or you are contracting out a lot of the work. Obviously it takes a lot more time and effort than purchasing a 36 month CD and “setting it and forgetting it.”
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!
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.
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.
Some retirees start consulting businesses, do handy-man work, or in some other way become self-employed. Many are caught off guard by the payroll/FICA tax and can get behind on taxes once they become self-employed. If you become self-employed be sure to work with a good tax professional who can help you calculate the right amount of payroll tax to send in, otherwise April 15th will be a very unpleasant time of year for you. 
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.
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!

I love my passive income. When you achieve enough of it the decision to start slowing down is easy. My passive income is plain vanilla. It is just coming from stocks and muni bonds. Some complain about the tax drag of income in a taxable account but I look at it as covering my living expenses in retirement. Interestingly I have never invested in “income” producing funds etc. If you save enough your portfolio will pay you more than enough without doing anything exotic.
It’s a (mostly) short term, higher risk, higher reward place to invest cash that has a low correlation with the stock market, but is far more passive than buying and managing properties, has more opportunity for diversification than private placements (minimums of 5-10K, rather than 100K), and most of the equity offerings (and all of the debt offerings) provide monthly or quarterly incomes. Unlike a REIT, you can choose exactly which projects you wish to invest in.
It’s a (mostly) short term, higher risk, higher reward place to invest cash that has a low correlation with the stock market, but is far more passive than buying and managing properties, has more opportunity for diversification than private placements (minimums of 5-10K, rather than 100K), and most of the equity offerings (and all of the debt offerings) provide monthly or quarterly incomes. Unlike a REIT, you can choose exactly which projects you wish to invest in.
If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I wish there was a product that did this,” then invent it! Create a product, medical or otherwise, and sell it as a company or get royalties for it. It’s not impossible to figure out, I have many friends who have taken a concept to market. Don’t overlook an invention as a fantastic means of attaining passive income.

The IRS gives more specific limitations as to what it means by “material” participation. For one, it includes if you worked at least 500 hours in a year on the project or more than 100 hours when no one else works more than you. Additionally, if you do at least almost all of the work in an activity, it’s considered material involvement. Even the combination of your work in multiple significant participation activities (SPAs), if it exceeds 500 hours, counts as material participation. There are a few more criteria that would qualify a project as material. You only need to meet one to qualify.

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.


Passive income, in a nutshell, is money that flows in on a regular basis without requiring a substantial amount of effort to create it. The idea is that you make an upfront investment time and/or money but once the ball is rolling, there's minimal maintenance required going forward. That being said, not all passive income opportunities are created equally. For investors, building a solid portfolio means knowing which passive investing strategies to pursue.

Flynn has created many different products. While his LEED exam is what got him started, he has both earned a commission from selling other people’s products and offered a commission to others who would sell his wares, and also recently created his first software, SmartPodcastPlayer.com, after realizing that most online podcast players offered only the basic stop/start/volume features. He hired a development team to create a superior one, which was a success from day 1. “We sold out 250 beta licenses in less than 24 hours, because I was addressing a need but also, I had built up an audience and trust with them … When you build that amount of trust with your audience, whatever you come out with, they will love.”
What I find most interesting is the fact that I had never considered options like LendingTree or realityshares for other income sources. Investing in property has been too much of bad luck for people that I know personally, so I am interesting in getting involved in a situation where I would have to be dealing with maintenance issues or tenants. There are services for you to do that, but I had not come across any that didn’t eat most if not all of the earnings. Then again, I live in the NY area. Investing in the midwest would not be reasonably possible for me, directly, but reading about realityshares is something I am going to look into further. That might be a real possibility.
The maximum special allowance of $25,000 ($12,500 for married individuals filing separate returns and living apart at all times during the year) is reduced by 50% of the amount of your modified adjusted gross income that’s more than $100,000 ($50,000 if you’re married filing separately). If your modified adjusted gross income is $150,000 or more ($75,000 or more if you’re married filing separately), you generally can’t use the special allowance. This is because the special allowance is reduced to $0 since the modified adjusted gross income is over the $100,000 amount.

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.
​Network marketing, or multi-level marketing, seems to be on the rise. Companies such as Young Living Oils, Avon, Pampered Chef, and AdvoCare are all multi-level marketing companies. You can earn passive income through network marketing by building a team underneath you (often referred to as a down line.) Once you have a large team you can earn commissions off of their sales without having to do much.
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