B.C. customers of a major Canadian camera retailer are shocked after receiving bills for unpaid provincial sales taxes dating back years.
Curtis Allen bought a camera lens from Toronto-based retailer Vistek two years ago. Last week, he was mailed a bill for $250 in unpaid PST.
"This can't be real," Allen remembers thinking when he got the bill. "This is ridiculous."
Photographer and CTV News audio operator Adam Lee was among those British Columbians caught up in the ordeal.
Lee bought a camera from Vistek on Boxing Day 2016. He was just told he owes the company $300 in provincial tax on the sale.
"I feel like after this amount of time, it's the company's mistake," Lee said.
Vistek told CTV News in an emailed statement that the company is trying to reclaim the uncharged taxes because it is "undergoing a PST audit initiated by the British Columbia provincial government."
B.C.'s finance ministry told CTV News that it is solely the responsibility of the company to charge PST at the time of the sale and failure to do so is the company's liability, not the customer's nor the government's.
"I felt like I was being scammed by a company that I once trusted," said Allen, who owns the Kelowna-based Solid Rock Video production company.
"They're allowed to ask you to voluntarily pay the tax if you want to, if you want to help them out," he said. "But there is no requirement for you to pay that."
On Saturday Allen received a follow-up email from the company saying in part: "Vistek has not billed you. We provided details and options and we will not contact you again regarding this matter. Payment is voluntary."
Both Allen and Lee say they will not be paying the overdue PST.