TUC Sponsored Programs

Incentive Payments

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Definition of Incentive Payments

Principal Investigators may provide incentive payments to individuals participating in a research projects (human subjects). Incentive payments are intended as a motivating influence to participants and therefore directly benefit the project. 

Incentive payments are not allowable as payments for the exchange of services (wages, salaries), due to taxation issues. Incentive payments are also not allowable in lieu of stipends, due to reporting issues to CSUN Financial Aid. 

 

1. Check Payments to Research Participants 

Participants receiving regular incentive payments should complete the form "Receipt for Incentive Payments to Research Participants ". The University Corporation will then issue a check and send it to the participants.

Procedure:

StepResponsibleAction
Step 1 Principal Investigator Print forms "Receipt for Incentive Payments to Research Participants"
Provide one form to each research participant
Step 2 Research Participant Complete the form "Receipt for Incentive Payments to Research Participants"
Step 3 Principal Investigator Submit a Advance Request and all completed forms as supporting documentation to The University Corporation
Step 4 The University Corporation Issue checks and send to research participants
Step 5 The University Corporation Issue form 1099 and send to research participants at the end of the year

* In case of numerous recipients, in lieu of the form "Check Payments to Research Participants" you may also generate a spreadsheet containing the same information.

 

2. Confidential Cash Payments to Research Participants

For some research federal regulations require strict confidentiality for the human subjects involved. Nothing that would allow specific identification of a person or persons can be used. TUC cannot directly issue a check to an individual without a breach of confidentiality. The participants will therefore receive cash payments.

Procedure:

StepResponsibleAction
Step 1 Principle Investigator Contact the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of The University Corporation
Request an "Exception to Requirement for Social Security Number"
Step 2 Principal Investigator Submit a Advance Request to The University Corporation for an advance payment of the amount of payments to all participants
Step 3 The University Corporation Issue a check to the Principal Investigator
Step 4 Principal Investigator Print forms "Confidential Payments to Research Participants*"
Provide one form to each research participant.
Step 5 Research Participant Complete the form "Confidential Payments to Research Participants * ". No name, address, or social security number is required in these forms. The participants may sign, or initial, for the receipt.
Step 6 Principal Investigator Exchange payment to the Research Participant for the completed form.
Step 7 Principal Investigator Submit the signed forms and a copy of the letter "Exception to Requirement for Social Security Number" to The University Corporation to clear your advance

* In case of numerous recipients, in lieu of the form "Confidential Payments to Research Participants" you may also generate a spreadsheet containing the same information.

Note 1: Confidential payments cannot exceed $600 or more in a calendar year. In that case, the name, address, social security number, and total amount paid must then be reported so that a 1099Misc form is issued at year-end.

Note2: Confidential Cash Incentive Payments may be used only for U.S. citizens and resident aliens. All payments to nonresident aliens must be processed according to the procedure for regular incentive payments (see 1.).

 

3. Minor Cash Incentive Payments (<=$50) to Research Participants

Some population of people often does not have the means to cash a check. If participants were not given cash, this subject population would be lost. These participants will therefore receive cash payments up to a maximum amount of $50 per participation.

Procedure:

StepResponsibleAction
Step 1 Principal Investigator Submit an Advance Request in the amount of payments to all participants to The University Corporation
Step 2 The University Corporation Issue a check to the Principal Investigator
Step 3 Principle Investigator Print forms "Receipt for Incentive Payments to Research Participants "
Provide one form to each research participant
Step 4 Research Participant Complete form "Receipt for Incentive Payments to Research Participants".
Step 5 Principal Investigator Exchange payment to the Research Participant for completed form.
Step 6 Principal Investigator Submit signed forms to The University Corporation to clear advance

* In case of numerous recipients, in lieu of the form "Cash Payments to Research Participants" you may also generate a spreadsheet containing the same information.

Note: Minor Cash Incentive Payments may be used only for U.S. citizens and resident aliens. All payments to nonresident aliens must be processed according to the procedure for regular incentive payments (see 1.).

 

4. Gift Cards to Research Participants (<$100)

In lieu of cash, research participants may also receive gift cards up to a total value of $100 per participant. 

StepResponsibleAction
Step 1 Principal Investigator Submit an Advance Request in the amount of payments to all participants to The University Corporation
Step 2 The University Corporation Issue a check to the Principal Investigator
Step 3 Principle Investigator Print forms 'Receipt for Incentive Payments to Research Participants '
Provide one form to each research participant
Step 4 Research Participant Complete form 'Receipt for Incentive Payments to Research Participants'.
Step 5 Principal Investigator Exchange gift card to the Research Participant for completed form.
Step 6 Principal Investigator Submit signed forms to The University Corporation to clear advance

Online Gift Cards (Amazon, etc.):  Some online merchants offer gift cards to be purchased and sent to the recipient online directly. This may create issues of having sufficient supporting documentation for audit purposes. As a result the Principal Investigator must make its best faith effort to receive a signed 'Receipt for Incentive Payments to Research Participants' form to each research participant. If this is not possible the PI must certify in writing that the gift card was provided to the participant. 

 

Taxability / IRS Reporting (>$600)

The Internal Revenue Service classifies incentive payments to research participants as Other Income and requires that they be reported on a 1099Misc form if the total payments to an individual are $600 or more in a calendar year.

The Principal Investigator is responsible for tracking and reporting to The University Corporation if an individual is paid $600 or more in a calendar year, so The University Corporation can issue a 1099Misc form at year-end.