There is a specific tax definition of passive income, known as “passive activity” to the Internal Revenue Service. Passive income is any income you make without actively working or are materially involved. The IRS defines it as any rental activity or any business in which the taxpayer does not “materially participate.” Nonpassive activities, or active activities, are businesses in which the taxpayer works on a regular, continuous, and substantial basis.
The thing is, I’m not talking about buying brick-and-mortar buildings. I tried that many years ago with my father-in-law, and with devastating results. We tried to buy a duplex once, and the deal fell apart after we realized we weren’t really prepared for the purchase. I secretly wanted to become a landlord, but at the same time, I knew it wasn’t for me.
I wouldn't think of a high yield savings account as a source of passive income but your savings should be getting something (less like Seinfeld syndication residuals and more like a commercial jingle residuals!). It won't make you rich but it's nice if your baseline, risk-free rate of return on cash is 1% or more. The best high yield savings accounts (or money market accounts) offer higher interest rate and there is absolutely no risk. CIT Bank currently leads the pack with the highest interest rate.
The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) uses the following definition: "Income is increases in economic benefits during the accounting period in the form of inflows or enhancements of assets or decreases of liabilities that result in increases in equity, other than those relating to contributions from equity participants." [F.70] (IFRS Framework).
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