If a closely held corporation is actively engaged in equipment leasing, the equipment leasing is treated as a separate activity not covered by the at-risk rules. A closely held corporation is actively engaged in equipment leasing if 50% or more of its gross receipts for the tax year are from equipment leasing. Equipment leasing means the leasing, purchasing, servicing, and selling of equipment that’s section 1245 property.
As interest rates have been going down over the past 30 years, bond prices have continued to go up. With the 10-year yield (risk free rate) at roughly 2.55%, and the Fed Funds rate at 1.5% (two more 0.25% hikes are expected in 2018), it’s hard to see interest rates declining much further. That said, long term interest rates can stay low for a long time. Just look at Japanese interest rates, which are negative (inflation is higher than nominal interest rate).
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.

Investing in bonds: Similarly, bonds are an attractive way to engage in passive income. Over a recent 45-year period, bonds funds, as measured by Vanguard Funds, returned 7.1%. Of course, there's no guarantee that investments in stocks or bonds will always work out well, investing in them is by far the surest way to generate money through passive income.


Investing in rental properties: Another form of real estate investment, rental investments (i.e. becoming a landlord) could steer you down the passive income path of steady monthly rent checks that you can use to pay off a mortgage loan on the rental property. After the mortgage is paid off, those monthly checks go right into your bank account -- potentially for years to come. 

This is a very passive way of generating income, but the catch is that you need a lot of money to build this passive income machine.  For example, you find a combination of dividend producing stocks & bonds (this also can be done with CD’s (and other cash equivalents) that you are comfortable with, the yield (or passive income) generated on the portfolio is 5%.  In order to generate $50,000 a year in passive (dividend) income you would need $1,000,000 in your account.  (CDs are FDIC insured up to $250,000 per depositor per insured depository institution.)
But when so many turn down leasing one and one-half acre for one Wind Turbine for each 80 acres, that lease certainly does not materially affect the rest of the Farm or Ranch grazing pasture and the lease pays much more than the farm crow or grazing pasture lease, just because some lawyer said the lease was too long: 30 years plus 30 year option = 60 years, and the wind turbine company has selling production/electricity contracts for the next 150 years – which is needed to obtain financing!
So that is where it gets a little weird too- tax classifications, which might be slightly different than the term defining how much work you do. Owning a business will always be taxed as active income. Rental properties will always be taxed as passive income. The reason being (all theoretical to an extent) is that, in theory, if the business stops selling or performing, income is lost. In theory, rental properties can continue to make money if you do no work on them. If I had a rockstar property manager who constantly handled everything about the property, I could technically do zero work and still receive income. In theory, even if the PM stopped working the property, if a tenant stayed there forever and kept sending money, you get income with no work. Not all that realistic for you to never be involved, and most certainly to succeed without a PM, but taxes assume it’s possible. Work has to continue to happen with a business for it to make income, therefore it’s active.
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.

YouTube is one of the most rapidly growing trends in 2018 and getting subscribers on YouTube is all the rage. You can create videos on any theme like opinions, comedy, love, tutorials, music etc. and put them on YouTube. Overlaying your video with Google AdSense will make you earn every time the ad is clicked. If you create YouTube videos for an education matter, you can repurpose these videos into an online course.


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.

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!

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