I wish I could give you some better feedback, but for the last few years smaller taxation entities in Ohio at least have been getting really sporty with collections. Basically they pay companies to come in and go through their old records to find “new” owed taxes.
I must say, from the sounds of what you you describe they really must have dug pretty deep here. Usually the school/local income taxes are pretty low (~1%) range unless you’re in a very expensive school district, and you would have had withholding for those in your paychecks for that period that should have completely covered the amount owed, regardless of that you filed. You will need old pay stubs to substantiate. Additionally, the amounts sounds off. At around 500$ total of what you list, call 1/2 penalties and for only four months, that would imply you would have had to make about $75K that year. Sounds like they filed a tax lien and you probably never got the notices.
Here’s how I handled our run-in with this:
My wife got hit with a letter for a joint taxation area last year, with taxes they claimed owed to them from over 9 years old at the time. We also no longer live in the state, so they couldn’t really touch us. They did have the gall to send us a lien letter for a rather petty amount (55$ past due, + fees getting around $350) given the paperwork involved, including the registered letter they sent.
I’m a CPA in Ohio, so I do know a few things about taxes in the state, and this really smelled fishy. Basically I called up the finance director, and called him on the carpet on the situation with regard to knowingly filing out of date tax requests, trying to scare people into paying. After a couple of “discussions” with him over the phone, and basically saying that he’s already invested more in this than he’s going to get out of it otherwise, I tossed him a check for the original past-due and he wrote the rest of it off. Only reason I did that was I didn’t want a stain on the credit report later, if they continued to be sporty.
Bottom line - you CAN negotiate on this and know that most of these collections are pretty hard to get otherwise. I’d get on the phone, and find out who you need to talk to to get this sorted out.