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Human Subject Payments for Participation in Research

The term “human subject” refers to a living individual about whom an investigator (whether professional or student) conducting research obtains data through intervention or interaction with the individual. Human subjects may be compensated for their participation in research projects in cash, cash equivalent (prepaid credit cards or gift cards), or small gifts of modest value.

IRS rules require the University to issue a Form 1099-MISC to any individual to whom it made payments, including human subjects payments, totaling $600 or more during a given calendar year. For non-cash payments such as food items or clothing, the items must be assessed a dollar value and counted towards the $600 threshold.

The University generally requires the collection of social security numbers from all human subjects to fulfill its tax reporting responsibilities. Human subjects must complete Form W-9 “Request for Taxpayer Identification Number” or the study staff must collect the equivalent information through an alternate form and such information should be held in strict confidence.

Exceptions to Obtaining a Form W-9

There are two primary exceptions to the requirement to obtain a Form W-9: (i) studies with subject payments under $50 in total; and (ii) confidential studies.