Working as a nurse or a computer engineer for a salary are two examples of active income. In contrast, residual income is income from an investment that earns over the minimum rate of return. You get paid for work you completed once or are periodically overseeing. With residual income, you don’t have to be present or intricately involved to get paid.

Residual income is calculated as net income less a charge for the cost of capital. The charge is known as the equity charge and is calculated as the value of equity capital multiplied by the cost of equity or the required rate of return on equity. Given the opportunity cost of equity, a company can have positive net income but negative residual income.