CityWest sent out notices to all its customers with residential phone service informing them that they have been accidentally overcharging them on PST since 2013. Residents must apply to the Ministry of Finance for reimbursement. (Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)

CityWest sent out notices to all its customers with residential phone service informing them that they have been accidentally overcharging them on PST since 2013. Residents must apply to the Ministry of Finance for reimbursement. (Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)

CityWest mistakenly overcharging customers on PST since 2013

Prince Rupert’s telecommunications company sent out notices to residents informing them of the error

CityWest customers have been incrementally losing more than a hundred dollars over the course of six years.

The Ministry of Finance received some extra revenue after CityWest found they had been overcharging their customers on the provincial sales tax (PST) since 2013.

Current residential customers who have phone features with Prince Rupert’s telecommunications company have been sent notices in the mail informing them of the error.

“The Provincial Sales Tax Act allows for an exemption of PST on residential phone services, if certain criteria are met. The exemption applies to phone services and additional phone service features, such as voicemail, call waiting, etc. For the last few years, we were incorrectly charging PST on those services,” the notice reads.

CityWest said they cannot refund customers themselves because according to the Provincial Sales Tax Act any amounts paid in error that exceed 180 days can only be refunded by the Ministry of Finance.

Bill Nicholls, director of finance for CityWest, said that the initial intent was to reimburse customers themselves, however, after discussions with the government it was not feasible.

READ MORE: Beware of CityWest email impostors

In addition, the ministry can only reimburse for errors made within four years, meaning residents will not see their money lost from 2013-2015.

One resident is owed almost $115, not including the extra charges paid before Sept. 2015. Chris Armstrong, director of marketing and spokesperson for CityWest, said the average amount lost was $61 per customer.

In an email exchange, the Ministry of Finance stated that they were unable to comment on specific tax cases. However, they said it is the responsibility of individual companies – not the Ministry of Finance – to apply the tax to consumers correctly. The ministry also noted that they regularly conduct tax compliancy audits.

Those wishing to be reimbursed can print out the Application for Refund form on the Ministry of Finance’s website, fill it out and send it by mail. The notice sent out by CityWest contains a schedule on the back stating the exact billing date and amount residents are owed, to make the application simpler.

The error began in April 2013 when the harmonized sales tax (HST) was repealed and the GST and PST was reinstated. CityWest said in their notice that they only became aware of the error in Jan. 2019.

Armstrong said the company is working to correct the issue right away. How the error went unnoticed for so long is still under investigation by the company.

READ MORE: Province asked to review port tax cap

READ MORE: Extend sales tax to soft drinks, B.C. advisory group says


Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
Jenna Cocullo 
Send Jenna email
Like the The Northern View on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

CityWest

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BC CDC mapping for the week ending April 4, shows a sharp decrease in COVID-19 cases to 27 in Prince Rupert down 45 from the week prior. (Image: BCCDC)
Sharp decline in Prince Rupert COVID-19 cases

Prince Rupert lab-confirmed cases are down 62.5 per cent in one week

Blair Mirau, Gitmaxmak’ay Nisga’a Society CEO, is seen in a hydroponic greenhouse the society purchased in 2020 to promote food stability and local supply. (Photo: supplied)
Three P.R. organizations partner to develop food distribution network

$167,000 grant awarded to GSN, PRDCC and Ecotrust Canada to strengthen food supply chains

Food security and local production were topics at the April 12 public hearing to discuss new zoning bylaws and new OCP bylaws in Prince Rupert. A shipping container-style hydroponic growing unit in Whitehorse on July 26, 2020 is similar to one purchased by the Gitmaxmak’ay Nisga’a Society for local food production. (Photo: Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Food security and local production were growing concerns at city held public hearing

No provision in new zoning bylaws and new OCP for urban agriculture zones in Prince Rupert

Members of Prince Rupert Rotary Club gave back to their community on April 15 by providing a facelift to the city's gateway at McClymont Park. (Photo: K-J Millar)
Acts of Kindness Day being honoured in Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert Rotary Club is encouraging acts of kindness all week long

A ball balances on the rim. New basketball court surfaces and nets will be installed as part of the McBride Street Multi-sport Court Redevelopment project to which Pembina donated $20,000. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Nothing but net for $20,000 Pembina donation

McBride Street multi-sport court redevelopment project in the planning

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
Out-of-region B.C. vacation bookings, RV ferry reservations to be refused, Horgan says

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
BREAKING: Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
B.C. health authority seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

Chakalaka Bar and Grill plans to continue serving customers without public health compliance

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to open up AstraZeneca vaccines for all people 40+, set up clinics in hot spots

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Most Read