Property taxes due Thursday

Get out your checkbooks, it's time to pay your property taxes.

The first installment of 2009-10 property taxes is due Thursday, so envelopes containing payments must be postmarked or hand-delivered by Thursday.

In Stanislaus County, 166,900 property tax bills were issued seeking payment of $424,744,562. Half of those taxes are due Thursday, the other half by April 10.

Property owners who don't pay on time will be charged an immediate 10 percent penalty, plus interest charges of up to 18 percent per year.

All taxes, penalties and interest charges must be paid before any parcel of land can be legally sold. That includes foreclosed property, because lenders who repossess houses get stuck paying the delinquent taxes.

All property tax bills must be paid within five years or the property can be sold at a tax auction.