A Suffolk accountancy business has been hit with a deluge of complaints from its clients as they say have been forced to repay tax refunds received through the firm.

Several clients of Apostle Accounting, which is based in Marriotts Walk in Stowmarket, have contacted this newspaper saying HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has pursued them for money.

The clients said they had previously used Apostle to claim a tax refund – some to the tune of thousands of pounds, with the firm taking a 20% cut – only for HMRC to reclaim the money later on, saying they were not entitled to it.

A Facebook group for clients of Apostle has been formed and now has more than 1,000 members.

Apostle, which was founded by Zoe Goodchild, said it is taking the matter "extremely seriously" and believes the cases "showcase an incorrect application by HMRC officers of its own rules/guidance".

East Anglian Daily Times: The firm is based in the mid Suffolk townThe firm is based in the mid Suffolk town (Image: Newsquest)

Many of the clients have said they were left in the dark over what Apostle was claiming for on their behalf, with no specific breakdown provided by the firm.

Some say they have reported the matter to the police.

Shaun Thomson, of Thetford, said he has been left about £6,000 out of pocket after he started a claim through Apostle in 2019.

He said he was told by Apostle that it wasn't legally allowed to provide a breakdown of his claim to HMRC, only being made aware it was for "job-related expenses".

Mr Thomson is now withholding payment back to HMRC and is prepared to take his case to a tribunal.

He said: "It's building traction now. We thought it was just a few of us being idiots, but there's more than 1,000 in the group now.

"At no point did they ever give me a breakdown of what they were claiming for. 

"I'm fortunate in that I can pay it. But people might struggle to find the money."

Lesley Ellis and her husband Nick, who both turn 60 later this year, also used Apostle to claim back about £5,000 between them – money they are now facing having to return.

Mrs Ellis, from Norfolk, said she thought the tax refund was believable was it was in the low thousands.

She added: "We now have to take this money out of our pension pot. It's just not knowing... it's not our fault.

"Not one did we ever hear what we were claiming for. We only ever sent our P60s."

Radek Milko, a driver from Basildon, first contacted Apostle after he changed employer in late 2019, meaning he was on an emergency tax code. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Radek Milko, of Basildon, used Apostle Accounting for a tax refundRadek Milko, of Basildon, used Apostle Accounting for a tax refund (Image: Radek Milko)

He received almost £6,100 a year later, but discovered in March of this year that HMRC was pursuing him for £8,500.

Mr Milko said: "When I saw all the people in the Facebook group, alarm bells started ringing. 

"I approached the company with the belief they would do the job for me.

"The problem is I have no paperwork – it has all been done on my behalf.

"I got the money and thought the case was closed."

An Apostle statement said: "Apostle has been made aware of claims from HMRC against its former clients in respect of a historically offered service whereby Apostle assisted individuals to identify and prepare tax rebate claims in respect of work-related expenses.

"Apostle understands HMRC is now contacting said former clients, seeking payment in respect of alleged wrongly claimed expenses.

"Apostle in no way accepts the allegations against it or liability for payments HMRC may be seeking from former clients.

"Working closely with its solicitors, and external independent advisors, Apostle will be submitting a thorough submission to HMRC explaining why it believes there has been an incorrect application by HMRC officers of its own rules/guidance."

HMRC said it was unable to comment on specific businesses.

A spokesman said: "We have a legal duty to collect the right amount of tax, so can review claims from previous years to make sure the tax rules are applied correctly and identify any errors that may have been made."