That's odd, because lot of these questions are actually pretty easy to answer. The IRS is good about publishing the data. Given that – and given the recent interest in personal income inequality, I decided to write a little bit about the different kinds of income people report on their tax returns. A longer paper – Sources of Personal Income – is here, but for a brief overview, you might want to check out the top ten sources of income:
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Income inequality refers to the extent to which income is distributed in an uneven manner. It can be measured by various methods, including the Lorenz curve and the Gini coefficient. Economists generally agree that certain amounts of inequality are necessary and desirable but that excessive inequality leads to efficiency problems and social injustice.
If the income is for personal services performed partly in the United States and partly outside the United States, you must make an accurate allocation of income for services performed in the United States. In most cases, other than certain fringe benefits, you make this allocation on a time basis. That is, U.S. source income is the amount that results from multiplying the total amount of pay by the fraction of days in which services were performed in the U.S. This fraction is determined by dividing the number of days services are performed in the United States by the total number of days of service for which the compensation is paid.
I've got a $185,000 CD generating 3% interest coming due. Although the return is low, it's guaranteed. The CD gave me the confidence to invest more aggressively in risk over the years. My online interest income has come down since I aggressively deployed some capital at the beginning of the year and again during the February market correction. You'll see these figures in my quarterly investment-income update.
In terms of whether transactions are liable to tax, the important distinction is that when you bought what you intend selling, you did not buy it with the intention to sell it on at a profit. For example, if you repeatedly buy and sell vintage dresses on eBay at a profit, then these transactions will be considered trades and you ought to include your profits in taxable income.
The reason I consider dividends artificial and believe they don’t matter is because you can just as easily reinvest your dividends. If a stock is worth $100/share, I don’t care if it issues a $1/share dividend or if the share price instead increases to $101/share – either way, I have the same amount of money, because there’s no difference to my net worth whether I take the dividend or sell part of a stock.
Purchasing a rental property is another common way that individual generate an income stream. It is very similar to investing, in that you take a sum of money to purchase the property, and the property returns a cash flow – rent. You do have expenses related to this that are different from investing, such as a mortgage, utilities, property taxes, etc, which all must be taken into consideration when calculating a return on rental property.
Maybe you’re obsessed with homemade jewelry and want to sell your wares on Etsy. Or, perhaps you’re well-versed on the Amazon reselling game and want to earn extra cash finding unicorns (rare and valuable products) and reselling them for profit. Maybe you’re obsessed with a specific topic and want to start a blog that can one day bring in advertorial and affiliate income.