What is Passive Income
Passive income is earnings derived from a rental property, limited partnership or other enterprise in which a person is not actively involved. As with active income, passive income is usually taxable. However, it is often treated differently by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Portfolio income is considered passive income by some analysts, so dividends and interest would therefore be considered passive.
Understanding Passive Income
There are three main categories of income: active income, passive income and portfolio income. Passive income has been a relatively loosely used term in recent years. Colloquially, it’s been used to define money being earned regularly with little or no effort on the part of the person receiving it. Popular types of passive income include real estate, peer-to-peer (P2P) lending and dividend stocks. Proponents of earning passive income tend to be boosters of a work-from-home and be-your-own-boss professional lifestyle. The type of earnings people usually associate with this are gains on stocks, interest, retirement pay, lottery winnings, online work and capital gains.
While these activities fit the popular definition of passive income, they don’t fit the technical definition as outlined by the IRS's Passive Activity Losses Real Estate Tax Tips.
Passive income, when used as a technical term, is defined as either "net rental income" or "income from a business in which the taxpayer does not materially participate," and in some cases can include self-charged interest. It goes on to say that passive income "does not include salaries, portfolio, or investment income."