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Compensation & Reimbursement: Frequently Asked Questions

Institutional guidance for stipends, prepayments, gift cards, and cash payments.  

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What data points are required for Payments?
  • Subject’s Legal First Name
  • Subject’s Legal Last Name
  • Street Address including Apartment Number if applicable. (PO Boxes are not an acceptable address for Payments use)
  • City, State, Zip code
  • Date of Birth
  • Gender

*SSN if stipend payments will reach over $201 in a calendar year

*Email if subject would like to register their card to use as a Debit card

Can I do Prepayments?
Prepayments are not possible in the Payments System. If a supplier or participant requests prepayment, the Authorized Department Representative should contact Purchasing for assistance.
Can Study Participants who are MCW Employees receive stipends?

With the exception of the research study participant payments and certain award payments and royalties, all payments for services by employees must be processed through Payroll rather than Accounts Payable. To request payment for these services, a memorandum must be sent to Payroll describing the services, dollars to be paid and account information.
Some business expenses paid to or on behalf of employees may be treated as wages, subject to Form W-2 and payroll tax reporting.
This includes indirect moving expenses, all Cash Gifts or cash equivalents such as gift certificates, gift cards, awards or gifts to employees, some Tangible Gifts and other payments which are considered a taxable benefit. Tangible gifts under $100.00 per occurrence are considered De minimis and will not be taxed. For additional limits or restrictions, refer to Policy BF.PA.043 Gifts. Prizes and Awards (network access required).

Employee Reimbursements

The IRS imposes certain requirements on MCW in order for an employee to receive reimbursement for a business expense. MCW has an Accountable Plan for reimbursement. The Plan requirements, which apply in every instance, are defined below:>

  • The amount reimbursed to an employee must be for an expense incurred while performing a service as an employee of MCW. MCW requires a clear business purpose for all reimbursements.
  • There must be adequate accounting within a reasonable timeframe. To comply with IRS regulations and facilitate timely Department review and authorization, MCW requires expenses be submitted for reimbursement within 60 days of the date incurred. Reimbursements submitted after 60 days will require written authorization from the Authorized Department Representative or Chairperson. Expenses submitted after six months will not be reimbursed.
  • Any excess reimbursement or allowance must be returned within a reasonable period of time. The IRS defines a reasonable amount of time as 120 days.

Provided these three requirements are met, MCW will not consider the reimbursement as taxable income to the employee.

Can a Participant use the same Compensation Card for multiple enrolled studies?
Yes, a single Study Participants Payment Card can be used simultaneously or concurrently for both participant payments and reimbursements on multiple research studies.
Do I have to collect SSN?
Effective July 9th 2019, use of the Card will not require the collection of a participant's social security number until their annual cumulative study stipend payments reach $201. 
What is the MCW policy on Gift Card Payments?
  1. $60.00 or Less - Individual gift card payments to research study participants for amounts of $60 or less are considered by MCW to be de minimis in nature and do not require a social security number to be collected from participants. The research study participant’s proper legal name, signature, date and amount received are required to be collected and stored by the research study site and submitted to Accounts Payable. This de minimis amount is not applicable to check payments.

  2. Greater than $60.00 – Individual gift card payments to research study participants greater than $60 require the collection of the participant’s proper legal name, home address, social security number and amount received.  This information must be stored securely (e.g. in locked drawer if paper format, or an encrypted file if in electronic format; the key for which is kept by a limited number of people who have a need to know) at the research study site, and also submitted via secure means (e.g. encrypted file) to Accounts Payable.
  • Gift Card Payments should not be used for additional reimbursable expenses for research study participants which are reimbursed separately.
  • Any loss or theft of gift cards must be reported to Public Safety.  Departments are responsible for replacing any gift cards that are not covered by institutional insurance.

*Regardless of participant payment amount and mechanism (i.e. check, gift card, MCW Participant Payments Compensation Card), study teams are required to provide legal name, home address and amount received to MCW Accounts Payable for every participant payment made. For additional information, please refer to MCW Corporate Policy BF.PA.010. If you have additional questions or comments please contact


What is considered a Cash Gift?
Cash Gifts include cash, checks, and cash equivalent gifts such as gift certificates or gift cards.