BC Tax Advice - PST charges from out of Province

Hey Everyone,

This might only apply to the fellow Canadians on the site, but I need some advice on how to proceed with a situation regarding PST charges that were never initially charged.

In 2016 I purchased my camera body from a website based in Ontario (I live in British Columbia). Ontario doesn’t not charge the 7% PST on Camera bodies to residents in Ontario as they don’t have this tax. Even though I input my address and shipping information, the website did not add on the PST tax, which was re-introduced back in 2013 (we used to have a HST before that which was removed). I received an email from the website with a PDF quote for the PST that was not charged this past week, stating that they were under Audit from the BC government, and asking for me to pay the tax they failed to collect at the time of purchase. They sent a follow up email a couple days later - after what I can only assume is a massive backlash from their customers - stating that it is the responsibility of the customer to pay the tax.

“ The BC Tax office states; All residents of BC should be aware that they are responsible for paying PST on retail goods acquired or brought into British Columbia, unless exempt. If they made the purchase and did not pay the BC PST, they are responsible for paying the tax.”


While I agree that during the transaction the customer needs to pay the taxes that are applied to the invoice, the Business is responsible for setting up their POS system to charge the applicable taxes during that transaction. I work in an industry with Customers that are PST exempt and we have procedures in place to handle that.

The BC government website states under the Taxes page that...

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“ If your business is required to register to collect PST, you must charge and collect PST at the time the tax is payable, unless a specific exemption applies. You report and pay the PST you collect as well as the PST you may owe on items you use in your business. “

Am I wrong in thinking that while I should have paid those taxes during the purchase, that this isn`t the fault of myself, the customer, but rather the fault of the business, and that I should not be responsible for nearly $200 in taxes, 3 years after the fact?

Any advice from those with experience or information in this are is greatly appreciated. Please note, I am able to pay these taxes, and understand why you pay taxes, but I don’t agree that they should be pursuing customers after this much time has lapsed.

Thanks again!

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