Research projects involving human subjects often offer a small payment to the research subjects for purposes of recruitment or encouragement for participation in the project. Payments to research subjects can be made using one of the following methods:

Cash used for incentive payments can only be acquired through a Field Advance or a currency Department Revolving Fund.
See the Researcher's Guide Clinic Trials for more information.

The "Department Responsibilities" page will discuss your record keeping, tax reporting and withholding responsibilities.

Gift Cards

Gift cards may be the preferred form of payment to research subjects. Gift cards can be purchased with Tango Card or US Bank Cash Card, revolving fund accounts, field advance funds, or ProCards.

Gift card purchases can also be reimbursed through eReimbursement, but this should be done only as a last resort. Reimbursements are only for rare occasions when other procurement options are not available.

The gift cards should be treated exactly as you would handle cash; adequate controls and security must be provided for the cards, and recipient information must be documented. Records of each payment to research subjects via gift card MUST be kept and reported to the AP Tax Desk at the end of each year, if applicable.

Revolving Funds

Revolving fund accounts are used for paying research subjects for long-term studies.  For short-term studies, you may want to consider using a field advance to pay research subjects.

Annual independent fund verifications for each Revolving Fund Account must be performed and will be requested by UW Banking & Accounting Operations. Records of each payment to research subjects via revolving fund MUST be kept and reported to the AP Tax Desk at the end of each year, if applicable.

Go directly to the Revolving Funds page

Field Advances

A field advance is, in essence, a loan from University of Washington general funds made to an individual (the custodian) to provide a temporary source of funds for conducting official UW business that cannot be paid for using traditional methods (i.e. purchase orders, check requests, UW Travel/Procurement credit cards).

The field advance may be for any amount of money as long as the department administrator or designee has authorized the request. A field advance cannot be issued for more than a six-month period. If funds are needed for a longer period, an additional advance may be requested near the end date of an outstanding advance.

At the end of the activity for which the funds were requested, the custodian must reconcile the expenditures against the advance. Any amount that was not spent must be returned to the UW by check or money order. In turn, if the appropriate expenditures exceed the amount of the advance, the UW will reimburse the custodian by check, if allowed by him/her department. Records of each payment to research subjects via field advance MUST be kept and reported to the AP Tax Desk at the end of each year, if applicable. (Please see the Tax Reporting and Withholding section above for more information).

Go directly to the Field Advances page


Payments to Foreign Nationals for Research Subject Work

Due to tax withholding requirements, research subject payments to foreign nationals may ONLY be paid via the Check Request process, noting the foreign country of residence on the check request form.Research subject payments to foreign nationals are automatically subject to 30% tax withholding. These payments will be captured and reported on IRS form 1042-S by the AP Tax Desk.  More information can be found on the UW Global Operations Support web page. Note: Subject payments to foreign nationals are the ONLY subject payments allowable on a check request form.