Construction summary worksheet for new-housing tax rebate

Here’s an example of a lengthy job aid: Canada Revenue’s form  GST191-WS, the Construction Summary Worksheet.

Who uses this job aid?

Canada Revenue has a process through which which certain homeowners can claim tax rebates for new construction, substantial renovation, and similar activity. Claims for owner-built homes (as opposed to homes purchased from a builder) use form GST 191. In order to submit the claim, the homeowner needs to complete this worksheet.

What’s this job aid for?

To receive a tax rebate, the applicant needs to document facts about the project, including the location of the construction, the construction period, and the fair market value of the property at the end of the project. In addition, the worksheet has six pages for documenting the various vendors, invoices, amounts paid, and amounts of GST (goods and services tax) paid.

Here’s page 2 as a sample. (Or, view the entire worksheet from the Revenue Canada site.)

Page two of Revenue Canada form GST 191 WS
(Click to enlarge this sample.)

Most projects, of course, will not have all of the 90-odd items listed (like flooring, built-in appliances, septic system, and land purchase). As a job aid, the worksheet is supporting two kinds of tasks: it prompts the applicant to consider an extensive list of possible expenses, and it guides the application through the processes needed to complete the actual application.

That’s why the final section of the GST191-WS worksheet includes a number of calculations based on data in the preceding seven pages: there are six important totals that the applicant will transfer to GST 191, the rebate application.

Section D from Canada Revenue form GST 191 WS
(Click to enlarge this sample.)


I haven’t read the instructions (which a sensible applicant would do), but I found some of the guidance in Section D confusing.  I think it’s because the section uses digits to refer both to particular boxes (fields) for information, and for page numbers, and for labels within the section.

As an example, see the circled information:

After I enter the amount from box 4 on page 7, what do I do? Multiply it by the amount in box 5? Or multiply it by 5?

And then do I add the amount in box 12, or simply add 12?

I think in both cases the answer is “the amount in the box,” but the worksheet could say so explicitly:

Total amount in box 4 on page 7: ____
Multiply that answer by the amount in box 5: ____
Divide that answer by the amount in box 12: ____

That number 1, on the right, is apparently a label for this calculation–or for the result of this calculation. You can see in the sample of Section D that there are similar labels for the next two calculations, followed by the instruction to add the three together.

This part of the worksheet has nearly half a page of blank space. It’d be a good idea to test two versions of this summary on typical performers to see if clearly labeling helps to reduce errors.

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