Payments for research participation: Don't tax the Guinea pig

Clin Trials. 2022 Oct;19(5):579-583. doi: 10.1177/17407745221105896. Epub 2022 Jul 2.


Under current US statute, payments to research participants are taxable income. This means that even though institutional review boards and researchers agree to specific payment amounts to account for the burden of research, participants are paid less than anticipated, and participants' net payment will vary depending on their home state. Unlike other entities in the research enterprise, who receive incentivizing tax exemptions and credits, research participation is tax dis-incentivized. In addition, incentives and rewards for other socially valuable activities are not taxed. Given these differences and the restrictions on research payments, it is unfair to tax participants on their payments and the statue should be revised.

Keywords: Research participation; clinical trial participant; clinical trial subject; fairness; research ethics; research payment; research subject; researchcompensation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ethics Committees, Research*
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Motivation*
  • Reward