In February 2007, Pat Flynn was working at an architecture firm making $38,000 a year. He mulled boosting his earning power by getting an architecture license, but the process would likely take six to eight years. When he heard about getting a credential in sustainable design and environmentally friendly building called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), he decided to go for that, as no one in his department had it. The one problem? The exam was so challenging, just one-third of test-takers passed.

“There is no such thing as 100% passive income,” says Flynn. “Even with real estate you still have to manage your properties, or even with the stock market, which is potentially passive income, you still have to manage your portfolio. With online business, there is no such thing as 100% passive income — and this is coming from a guy with a blog called SmartPassiveIncome.com. The definition of passive income is ‘building these businesses of automation,’ but in order to keep them automated and keep that trust going with your audience on top of that, you do have to keep it up every once in a while — so a lot of time upfront and a little time after. But there is alway time involved.”
If you own residential or commercial property and earn income by renting it out, then you must pay taxes on your earnings just as you do any wages or salaries that you earn. What you must pay in taxes depends upon what type of investor you are classified as by the Internal Revenue Service. How your rental property taxes are discerned by the IRS depends upon if the IRS views you as an active investor or a passive investor.
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.
Similar to making a website or blog, but more passive, is creating an online course. If you have a specific skill you know you can teach and that others want to learn, you can easily create an online course. Sites like Udemy can help you do this. It requires some work to make it, but after that, users simply need to sign up for the course and pay a fee.
For example, I wrote “How to Get a University Job in South Korea” in October 2014. Sales peaked for the first few months after I released it at $50+ a month, but I’m still selling a few copies here and there and making $10-20 a month. The best part about it is this $10-20 is for no work. I no longer do any sort of promotion for it aside from perhaps mentioning it in a blog article if appropriate. That’s some passive income awesome!
The activity is a significant participation activity, and you participated in all significant participation activities for more than 500 hours. A significant participation activity is any trade or business activity in which you participated for more than 100 hours during the year and in which you didn’t materially participate under any of the material participation tests, other than this test. See Significant Participation Passive Activities , under Recharacterization of Passive Income, later.
Great argument for passive income but want more meat on the bone on “passive income” information. We all feel screwed by the progressive tax system. Most of us probably think our dividends and cap gains are passive. True, but the real wealth, sans ceiling, resides within more risky ventures like entrepreneurship and real estate. While appealing, I’m too busy for all that at the level I need to be for success. It took me 2 years (starting with your blog) of reading financial books and blogs before I was ready to DIY invest. Several years, 2 kids and a slamming practice later, I just don’t have the time to read up on other passive avenues. Plus, I’m pretty content with my dividend and cap gains (while they last) and would rather see patients than take a call about a rental house. Maybe when the kids grow up a bit and I scale my practice back, your ideas will fall in more fertile soil. Until then, I look forward to future posts and comments.

My esteemed marketing colleagues initially balked at the idea of creating products that generate royalties, so I can understand how creating something from nothing might be daunting for those who aren’t even in creative roles. However, realize there is this enormous world out there of photographers, bloggers, artists, and podcasters who are making a passive income thanks to the Internet.

When I did her recent tax return she had $45,000 in passive losses from the rentals and $35,000 in income from her S-Corporation. I called her and found out how many hours she had only worked for three months in her S-Corp, which was less than 500/750 hours per year.  I changed the nature of the income from the S-Corporation to passive, thereby eating up the passive losses from the rental. 
Hardy struggled to find space at the hospitals to conduct his procedures. Due to this difficulty, Hardy considered opening his own surgery center. He purchased land and developed plans to build this surgery center; however, before construction started, MBJ representatives approached Hardy to ask him about becoming a member. Mr. Hardy concluded that becoming a member/manager of an established surgery center was a better business decision than building his own surgery center due to the cost of construction, staffing, certifying, and operating the center.
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stREITwise offers a hybrid investment between traditional REIT fund investing and the new crowdfunding. The fund is like a real estate investment trust in that it holds a collection of properties but more like crowdfunding in its management. The fund has paid a 10% annualized return since inception and is a great way to diversify your real estate exposure.

1. The batting cage idea is very risky. I’ve seen many of them close over the years and it is not anything close to passive income if you want to keep the business going. You have to continually promote it and target youth leagues, coaches, schools etc to catch all of the new players who grow up and want to play. I’ve played at probably 8 batting cages over the years and 7 of them closed.
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