Types of Income (Different Types And What You Should Know: Overview)

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Different Types of Income

What do you mean by “types of income”?

How many different types of income are there?

To start with, let’s define what is income.

According to Investopedia, income is defined as follows:

Income is money or the equivalent value that an individual or business receives, usually in exchange for providing a good or service or through investing capital.

For instance, an individual may receive employment income by providing labor or a business can receive an income by selling products and services.

It’s important to understand the different types of income that you can earn so you can make the best possible financial decisions in your life.

Anyone looking to make money, build wealth, and live financially free should have a good understanding of the different types of income and how you can generate income streams to achieve your financial goals.

Very broadly, we can classify income in three categories:

  • Active income 
  • Passive income
  • Portfolio income

Let’s look at each of these three types of income.

Active Income

Active income is a type of income that you generate by doing some work or participating in the generation of the income in a material way.

For example, when you render service and get paid, you are generating active income. 

Active income is when you do something and get paid for doing it.

To make active income, you must either exchange your time and energy for money.

Here are some examples of active streams of income:

  • Working a day job
  • Teaching 
  • Consulting services
  • Coaching services
  • Working in a call center
  • Acting as a sales person
  • Building websites
  • Doing graphic design 
  • Doing SEO consulting 
  • Acting as a real estate agent 
  • Working as a stock trader 

Passive Income

On the other hand, passive income is when you do not necessarily participate in a material way in generating the income.

This does not mean that you do not need to work to generate passive income, it simply means that once you’ve set up the passive income source, you do not need to actively perform work to keep the income coming in.

For example, you can start a blog to earn a passive income or build an online store to make money passively.

You need to put in some of your time, energy, and perhaps some capital to start the blog or build your e-commerce website, but eventually it can start earning in you a steady stream of income.

You can earn passive income by investing in a business as a silent partner, invest in rental properties, or other assets where you do not actively participate in.

Here are some more examples of how you can earn passive income:

  • Starting a blog
  • Affiliate marketing 
  • Buying a website
  • Renting property 
  • Renting equipment 
  • Publishing ebooks
  • Selling digital products 

Portfolio Income

Portfolio income is income you earn from investments, such as:

  • Dividend income
  • Interest income
  • Capital gains
  • Royalties 

Generating portfolio income requires that you make money by using your money.

For example, you can generate dividend income by buying shares of stock in a company paying dividends.

You effectively use your money to invest in a dividend stock which in return generates you portfolio income.

Similarly, you can invest in peer-to-peer lending loans, purchase dividend-paying ETFs, or invest in books generating royalties.

Types of Income Streams

What are the different types of income streams?

There are different ways you can generate income, more specifically seven of them.

Here are the 7streams of income you should know about.

We’ll talk about their pros and cons, risks, and possible rewards.

Earned Income

Earned income is a type of income that you earn by working on a job.

In exchange for your work, you are paid a wage or salary.

For many, earned income is the only type of income they rely on to make a living.

Some may have good-paying jobs while others do not make enough to earn a decent living.

Generally, many workers feel safe on the job although your job is never guaranteed.

The advantage of earned income is that you have stability and predictability.

You can expect to put in 30, 40, or 50 hours a week and make a set amount of money.

On the other hand, you may not be financially free or earn enough to live the life you want.

You will need to adjust your lifestyle to reflect your earned income capacity.

Here are some examples of earned income:

  • Salaries
  • Wages 
  • Commissions 

Profit Income

Profit income is a type of income that you earn by selling your products and services.

This means that you either render service and get paid for the services rendered (which includes your profit) or sell products (above your cost for profit).

Those who earn profit income are entrepreneurs or self-employed individuals.

It’s definitely riskier to earn profit income than earned income but with more risk comes a higher possible reward.

If you are good at something (you have an expertise), or you are able to sell something you create or own, you can turn that into profitable income.

Here are some examples of profit income:

  • Digital marketing advice
  • Blog consultant 
  • SEO consultant
  • Investment advisor 
  • Real estate advisor 
  • Graphic design 
  • Website building company
  • Marketing advice 
  • Passive income advisor 

Interest Income

Interest income is a type of income you earn when you put your money to work for you.

If you have extra cash, you can invest your money in investment instruments that allow you to earn interest income.

For example, you can put money in a regular savings account to earn a small amount of interest (something small is better than nothing), corporate bonds, treasury bills, or other types of government bonds.

Depending on the type of investment you make, you will assume a varying level of risk.

If you go into government bonds, you will take less risk than if you purchase corporate bonds.

Dividend Income

Dividend income is an income type where, as a stockholder in a company, you receive the distribution of profits in the form of dividends.

Dividend income is one of my personal favorites among the 7 types of income listed in this section.

By strategically investing in dividend-paying stocks, you can generate passive income for many years to come.

When a company earns profits and has extra cash that it can distribute to its stockholders, it will declare and issue dividends.

Investing at the right time can not only provide you with a great source of passive income but you may also earn a profit on the appreciation of the stock value over time.

Rental Income

Rental income is a type of income that you earn by investing in properties or assets that you can rent.

Real estate assets are notorious for providing property owners with rental income.

For example, if you purchase a real estate property that you can rent to a tenant, you can generate rental income for the entire time you own the property.

This is truly an excellent way to build wealth over time.

Not all rental income opportunities are created equal.

Depending on your risk tolerance, you should focus on real estate assets or properties that closely match your expectations.

Capital Gain Income

Capital gain income is the profit you earn when you sell an asset over and above the price you initially paid for it.

You can earn capital gains by buying and selling stocks, bonds, or securities.

You can also earn capital gains by buying and selling real estate properties.

For example, if you buy a real estate property for $200,000 and sell it for $300,000, you will have generated $100,000 in capital gain income.

Depending on where you live or where the asset is being transacted, the local tax authorities may impose taxes on the profits that you earn.

To calculate your net profit (after taxes), it would be a good idea to speak to an accountant or a professional before buying or selling a property.

Royalty Income

Royalty income is a type of income stream that you earn by licensing something that you built or produced.

You can generate royalty revenues by making music and licensing it, writing books and selling copies, building a software product, designing an image, making photos, you name it.

Authors, software developers, musicians, poets, inventors, and others who are able to build something unique and license them out can make a great amount of money in royalties.

Types of Income According To The IRS

According to the IRS, there are many types of income.

Here is a list of income types published by the IRS under Tax Topic No. 400 Types of Income:

  • Wages and Salaries
  • Interest Received
  • Dividends
  • Business Income
  • Capital Gains and Losses
  • Pensions and Annuities
  • Lump-Sum Distributions
  • Rollovers From Retirement Plans
  • Rental Income and Expenses
  • Renting Residential And Vacation Property
  • Farming and Fishing Income
  • Earnings for Clergy
  • Unemployment Compensation
  • Gambling Income and Losses
  • Bartering Income
  • Scholarships, Fellowship Grants, and Other Grants
  • Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits
  • 401(k) Plans
  • Passive Activities – Losses and Credits
  • Stock Options
  • Traders in Securities
  • Receipt of Stock in a Demutualization 
  • Canceled Debt 
  • Acquisition or Abandonment of Secured Property 

Type of Income Takeaways 

So, what does type of income mean?

What is type of income exactly?

Some say there are two types of income, others say 4 types of income, or more.

In this article, I’ve broken down the different types of income in three broad categories and subcategories.

Broadly speaking, you have three types of income:

  • Active type of income
  • Passive type of income
  • Portfolio type of income

If we include the subcategories to these three categories, you’ll have seven types of income streams:

  • Earned income (active)
  • Profit income (active)
  • Interest income (portfolio or passive)
  • Dividend income (portfolio or passive)
  • Rental income (portfolio or passive)
  • Capital gain income (portfolio)
  • Royalty income (portfolio or passive)

Let’s look at a summary of our findings and what type of income means.

What Are The Different Types of Income

  • An income is money that a person or company makes by rendering some services, doing some work, selling products or services, or providing something of value to another in exchange for cash 
  • We can classify the different types of income in three buckets: active, passive, and portfolio
  • Active income is when you actively perform work to earn money (like work on a job, sell goods, run a business)
  • Passive income is when you do not actively participate in the income you generate (like you invest in a limited partnership, or business, or buy rental property)
  • Portfolio income is when you earn money through your investments (like capital gains on your investment profits, dividend income, royalties on intellectual property you own)
Annual income 
Business income 
Earned income 
Gross monthly income 
Income definition 
Leveraged income 
Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI)
Non-passive income 
Operating income 
Ordinary income
Residual income 
Taxable income 
Tax-exempt income 
Ways to make residual income 
What is taxable income
What is unearned income
Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)
Business banking solution 
Diversify income
Examples of Passive Income
Gross income
How to make passive income 
Income statement 
Income streams
Net income 
Passive Income Apps
Passive Income Books
Passive income generator 
Passive income ideas 
Passive Income Meaning
Passive Income Strategies
Passive income types 
Unearned income
What is passive income