Certainly, paid surveys exits. There are several of genuine market research companies that compensate you for your opinion. Companies need to get opinion from general public on their products or services, to do so they hire these online survey firms. That's the reason these online survey firms are willing to pay to find out what you think.
Online survey is an online feedback form that user would be answering the questions about specific product or service. Some long online surveys more that 20 pages and it take up to nearly half an hour to complete. The range of payment varies at the length of surveys, generally starting from $0.1 to $30 per online survey. In some specific industry specialized surveys it may worth up to $100.
A focus group is a casual round-table talk lead by a professional arbiter. Mostly the talks are regarding to a specific product, service or even advertising. The talks may take about two hours, require no homework, and you are compensated up to $40 -$150 for your time.
Simply, you need to sign-up for a paid survey site via filling joining form. After that market research company will notify you by sending email time to time, whenever they have a survey available in which your profile fits. The notification will contain direct link to the survey and the compensation they are offering for you to take the survey. Just complete the survey to qualify for the reward.
The companies normally compensate you in cash, gifts, sweepstakes, prizes or points that you can convert into cash or merchandize. Payments are sent through check or PayPal.
It really depends on yourself only, if you sign-up for a large number of survey sites, you could make about $400 to $500 a month in cash or something similar. Generally payment ranges from $0.1 to $30 per online survey completed. In some industry specialized surveys you may be paid up to $80 - $100. It is recommended that take this as extra money making, not as full time job or career.
To keep away from scams you need to do some research of site offering paid surveys. The most significant rule is "Never Pay for Online Surveys". Genuine companies never charge any money for their membership. Also check the existence of the website.
You'll be considered as an "independent contractor", if you're a U.S. citizen. And in such case no income or other taxes are withheld from the payments you receive. At the end of the year, any survey company that has paid you $600 or more will send you an IRS Form 1099 that and you're supposed to include this as "miscellaneous income" on your tax return. If you are not a foreign citizen, you will need to ask an accountant or other tax consultant for the answer to this question.
Certainly not, as the gigantic corporations are not only exists in the USA, but they are global. So, they are interested in the opinions of people living abroad also. However, there are few sites that are restricted to target only citizens of the US.
Online surveys are fully flexible in time duration. Generally it takes 15-30 minutes, but in some case it take longer, and can be disturbing your present schedule.
Regarding payment each company has its own payment policies. Payments normally come through monthly checks, but sometimes instantly paid via Paypal.