Former clients of a Suffolk accountancy firm at the centre of a tax refund issue have appeared on a BBC consumer rights show.

Apostle Accounting, based in Stowmarket, was the focus of BBC One's Rip Off Britain, broadcast on Wednesday morning.

The company has previously claimed tax rebates from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on behalf of its clients, only for the tax authority to demand the money is repaid years later.

The clients have told this newspaper Apostle claimed for work-related expenses, but never provided them with an itemised breakdown on what was being claimed for on their behalf.

Apostle has denied any wrongdoing and said HMRC wrongly applied its guidance – but some clients have been left thousands of pounds out of pocket.

Rip Off Britain spoke to Lee Osborne, from Cambridgeshire, who heard about Apostle in 2020 through a friend.

East Anglian Daily Times: Former Apostle client Lee Osborne, from CambridgeshireFormer Apostle client Lee Osborne, from Cambridgeshire (Image: Lee Osborne)

Mr Osborne told the show he was due £19,131 back from HMRC in tax relief, though Apostle took a 24% cut.

It was only a couple of years later that he was told by HMRC that he may not have been due the money and a compliance check had been opened.

Mr Obsorne said he was told by Apostle there was "very little" the company could do to assist him.

Months later, he was told he had to pay back HMRC £21,235.

The consumer rights programme also spoke with two Port of Felixstowe workers named Robert and Reuben, who said they had been mentally affected after being told to pay back HMRC.

Solicitor Arun Chauhan appeared on the show and said he was "sympathetic" to the former clients.

East Anglian Daily Times:

He added: "What we've got here is, at best, Apostle not being diligent – but at worst, my fear is, that this is dishonesty."

When the show's findings were put to Apostle, the firm said it "rejects any accusation of any wrongdoing in the strongest possible terms" and said it was "not solely an issue that former Apostle Accounting clients are dealing with".

Apostle also said it provided its clients with a "breakdown" over the tax refunds, but Rip Off Britain said the firm did not provide any evidence.

The company said it had been in contact with a number of its ex-clients over the issue and expressed its sympathies to the people ordered to pay back significant sums.

Angela MacDonald, deputy chief executive of HMRC, said the tax authority could not speak specifically about Apostle issue but said individuals are "always responsible" for tax claims submitted on their behalf, even if submitted through a third party.

Earlier this year, the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit police force said it was looking into claims of fraud regarding the issue.

Apostle has been contacted for further comment on the Rip Off Britain broadcast.