July 12th, 2011
07:47 AM ET

Fan who caught Jeter ball could owe big taxes

Next time, just throw it back.

Accountants say the man who caught the home run ball that Derek Jeter smashed for his 3,000th hit Saturday will have to pay as much as $14,000 in taxes, New York media report.

Christian Lopez, 23, caught the ball and promptly handed it over to the Yankees without demanding any kind of payment, the Daily News reported. The Yankees rewarded him with suite seats for the rest of the season, plus a heap of autographed team memorabilia.

That's what could cost Lopez. According to The New York Times, the total value of the seats and loot could exceed $120,000. The IRS would consider that to be taxable income, several accountants told both newspapers.

However, if it were construed as a gift, it would not be taxable, Columbia University law professor Michael J. Graetz told the Times.

"The legal question of whether it is a gift or prize is whether the transferor is giving the property out of detached and disinterested generosity," Graetz said. "It's hard for me, not being a Yankee fan, to think of the Yankees as being in the business of exercising generosity to others, but there's a reasonable case to be made that these were given out of generosity."

For his part, Lopez is being just as magnanimous with the IRS as he was with Jeter.

"Worse comes to worse, I'll have to pay the taxes," he told the Daily News. "... The IRS has a job to do, so I'm not going to hold it against them, but it would be cool if they helped me out a little on this."

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Filed under: Baseball • New York • Sports
soundoff (936 Responses)
  1. U-Turn

    So, will the IRS start to tax people who receive donated organs now too?

    July 12, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Taxman

      Wow, great idea, thanks.

      July 12, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Maverick

      No, because it's considered an "anatomical gift", and organs, tissues, blood, or other body parts are prohibited (at least in the US) to be sold privately. As there is no cash value on these there can be no tax assessed on them. Now, if a recipient were to give something to the donor or family FOR it, then there could be a tax issue. I am a designated requestor for an organ procurement organization, so I have some knowledge in this area.

      July 12, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      NO! The ball was worth around $ 250,000 so he is taking a huge loss for giving it up.Now the IRS owes him a nice refund.

      July 12, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Re-dick-erous

    Sounds like Christmas in July. The Yankee's received the baseball as a "gift", and gave "gifts" in reply.
    IRS has a problem with it do it in front of a Christmas tree.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  3. john

    what a bunch of BS

    July 12, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  4. fritz

    The ball club would never want me to catch such a valuable ball. Why? Because I'd force the greedy arrogant jock to pay through the nose to get it back! Why? Because I know the jock would want it back to add to his personal shrine to himself to show others how great he is. These steroid ridden jerks have been taking the mindless public for granted and soaking them for their money for decades. What would I really do? I'd put it up for auction and hope the jock gets reamed to get it back.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Joshua

      You are such a hater. These athletes sacrafice so much in their youth and work tremendously hard to keep themselves in playing condition. 3,000 hits is a major milestone in Baseball. And to hit it as a home run is even more so. You obviously have no scense of accomplishment or for that matter, class. Jeter is perhaps the most respected player in all of MLB, if not in all of sports. You are just a classless jeolous hater. Your probably a Republican to boot.

      July 12, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • o.k.

      Fritz...relax buddy. Sounds like you've been bitten by the little green bug to me though.

      July 12, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  5. Joe

    it sure sounds like a gift to me. The yankees could be subject to gift tax. the fan should not be taxed.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  6. Joshua

    The biggest part of this story is how admirable this guy is. Not only does he graciously give Jeter his 3,000 hit ball, he recognizes the important job the IRS has to perform. There is now way in the world this guy is gonna have to pay a cent to anyone in taxes. The items he received were clearly gifts from the Yankees organization as a show of appreciation for his genorosity. This is one classy guy. i can't say I would have been so gracious with Jeter or the IRS. But because of this guy's action, I would have to consider living up to his ethics of doing the right thing. This guy is a true Yankee fan.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  7. Geraldyne

    Let the man enjoy the benefits for once in his life. At least, he did not cash in the ball like others might have. Leave this guy alone, IRS!!! They are nothing but barracudas!!!! GIve him time, please!!!

    July 12, 2011 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  8. Bradley N

    Jeter should pay off these taxes and his student loans

    July 12, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  9. ryan

    Go figure. Big brother has to stick its hand in the cookie jar and ruin it for everybody!

    July 12, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  10. CSG

    It shows how corrupt the government is. That is obviously not a prize because there was no contest. I think those corrupt IRS guys should be put away for a long time. How many more reasons do we need to hate the government. I hope they get shut down for a long time.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  11. andrew

    wow the IRS can't seem to catch the big fish out there for tax evasion but buddy gets something for giving up Jeters ball and they are all over it?? further proof of the sad state of the US.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • o.k.

      Did you read the article? The IRS hasn't done anything. The point of the article is that some accountants have suggested that the current tax laws may open the door. C'mon everyone–just read the article before you get panties in a twist.

      July 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. gfg

    i would have handed it back too, after they handed me a check for a couple hundred grand

    July 12, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  13. Hamid77

    For all of you complaining about how the IRS is putting its energy in the wrong places, going after the common man and whatnot, you need only to look in the mirror to find the blame. Americans have let this happen to America.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  14. Gregory Wahl

    Before you all go hating on the IRS, consider the fact that the IRS did not make any of the statements in this article– accountants did. Laws are laws, and the IRS follows tax law. The guy and the Yankees and their respective accountants can very likely work this out to be a gift, in which case the IRS doesn't care. But regardless, this story should not be an anti-IRS story... it should be an "accountants get public worked up for nothing" story.

    Chill!

    July 12, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  15. Peter

    Typical criminal activity by the criminal irs.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
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