Compensate a Research or Survey Participant
Individuals, including VCU employees, students, and non-employees, who participate in VCU research or survey projects may be compensated through any of the below methods.
Compensation for research/survey participation must be reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) when compensation exceeds $600 per calendar year. Principal investigators or survey coordinators must maintain accurate records of participants and compensation provided, and research participants must be notified of applicable tax implications.
Procurement Methods and Instructions
RealSource One Time Payment Step-by-Step
Determine if the Recipient is Set Up in RealSource
- If the participant is already set up as an "active" vendor in RealSource, proceed to step 2, below.
- If not, submit the appropriate Vendor Request form from the RealSource homepage. Instructions can be found in the RealSource User Help-Guide.
Complete the One-Time Payment Request in RealSource
Gift Cards Step-by-Step
To be paid by gift card, participants are strongly encouraged to provide SSN. If participant will not provide SSN, see step #3 below.
Understand Department Fiscal Responsibilities:
- Gift cards must not be charged against grant or state funds when purchased in advance of the services being rendered. Purchases of gift cards in advance must be charged to an index of 2-9 or an unrestricted local fund. If applicable, a JV to charge back a grant account must be completed within 60 days.
- Under no circumstances should an individual purchase gift cards and request reimbursement.
- The principal investigator, study coordinator, or designee has sole responsibility for safekeeping, maintenance and proper usage of the cards. Gift cards must be safeguarded and accounted for the same as cash. Upon receipt of the cards, a log of all the card numbers should be maintained. At a minimum, the log must include the card's unique number, card value, participant's name and address.
- If an inventory of cards cannot be kept in the department, department should only purchase the number of cards that will be used in the current phase of the study. A written monthly reconciliation of cards and receipts or log should be prepared for internal records. The total of the documented receipts or log plus cards on hand must always equal the original disbursement amount.
- Gift cards and supporting documentation are subject to review by Assurance Services and/or Treasury Services, similar to a petty cash account.
Complete the Participant Form Spreadsheet
Departments must submit the “Participant Form Spreadsheet” electronically through VCU Filelocker to firstname.lastname@example.org for all participant payments (include name, address, social security number, amount and payment method). This should be completed within 60 days of the date the card was purchased for tax-reporting purposes. If a participant refuses to release social security information, select that option in the form and see step 4 below.
Purchase the Gift Cards:
Departments may use one of the methods below to obtain gift cards in advance of the services being rendered
- Purchase Order – If a Vendor will accept a po for payment of gift cards use RealSource to create a po to that Vendor.
- PCard – Purchasing gift cards with a PCard is generally allowed only when no other form of payment is reasonably feasible, and requires prior approval. Email email@example.com to request approval prior to making a purchase via PCard.
- Petty Cash - Gift cards may be purchased using petty cash funds as these expenditures are not charged to the grant (or other indexes) until the petty cash fund is replenished. Petty cash fund documentation must include the original receipt of the gift card purchase.
Actions Required if Participant Will Not Release SSN
Procurement Services will track payments to individuals with no Social Security which exceed the $600 threshold. Departments will be notified by Procurement Services if any payments meet these criteria.
If payments for participants without a SSN exceed the $600 threshold, in compliance with IRS regulations, the principal investigator must provide payment for the 28 percent backup withholding charge. The PI will be required to provide a 2, 9, or unrestricted index code to Accounts Payable.
Petty Cash Step-by-Step
- Processes and procedures for Petty Cash funds are available at treasury services website
- Department must gather participant information using the “Participant Form Spreadsheet” and submit it electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org via VCU Filelocker
- To seek reimbursement of the petty cash, follow the steps under the Replenish a Department Petty Cash Fund section of the webpage.