Thanks for asking. 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.
You pay two main types of taxes on earned income, Social Security/Medicare taxes (called FICA, OASDI, or payroll taxes), and federal and state income taxes. The payroll taxes that are automatically taken out of your paycheck have two components. First, 12.4 percent of earned income is paid to Social Security. Your employer pays half of this tax, and you pay half. If you are self-employed you'll pay the full 12.4 percent, however, the "employer" portion of 6.2 percent is generally tax deductible.
Another great aspect of passive income is that it is often completely scalable. Consider my book. If I sell 10 copies of it, I might get $100. If I sell 100 copies of it, I might get $1000. How much additional work did it take for me to sell those extra 90 books? Zero. And there’s nothing keeping me from selling 1,000 or even 10,000 copies of the book. A website is the same way. No limit on the eyeballs that can view it (as long as I keep upgrading the hosting plan!) Shares of stock are the same way. Owning 100,000 shares is no more work than owning 10 shares. If you’re a real estate investor, once you get your “system” in place (agent, insurance guy, attorney, accountant, property manager, repairman etc) it may not take you much more work at all to own ten properties than to own one. Maybe you do speaking gigs and charge $50 a head. Is it any more work to speak to 500 instead of 50? Not really. Leveraging your money is great, but leveraging your time through scalability is even better.
I am an English major and a herbalist with so many ideas and no extra income to fulfill them. I recently started renting my extra apartment in the attic with Airbnb. It’s amazing how fast I accumulated some money for few hours of work between guests. Now I want to persue all my dreams of opening an online herbal store, publishing my ebook of treating Ulcerative Colitis with herbs, blogs, and videos, and pretty much all of the ideas mentioned here. I will save this article as its really helpful for whomever needs some ideas…