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. Al

    Not to speak for him/them; but I am sure either Jeter or the Yankees will take this tab for him too.....they both as such a world class act.....and I mean that in all sincerity......

    July 12, 2011 at 11:57 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Pinky and the Brain

    Be nice if Jeter took care of it for him. Unless this guy was secretly demanding this stuff... which it doesn't sound like. Then it would be a shame for him to be saving for a couple years just to pay the tax on a generous gift. It was pretty selfless to give up the ball for a handshake and an autograph. Jeter doesn't owe this guy anything obviously, but 14K means next to nothing to Jeter and probably an overwhelming amount to this guy.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:57 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Nick

    Yankees are the most valuable franchise in all of sports, Jeter has probably 200 million in the bank. Cut the IRS a check so this HONEST FAN does not get screwed. Personally, Yanks and Jeter should do more for this 23 year old. Tickets and autographed stuff, they are getting off REALLY cheap

    July 12, 2011 at 11:57 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mr Mr Mr

      I'm afraid you're wrong, sir–the most valuable team in world sport is, in fact, Manchester United (according to Forbes, who tend to know these things). Please remember that there is a sporting world outside of the U.S.A. The Yankees come in 3rd (after the Dallas Cowboys, apparently).

      July 12, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • 12bdrumer

      I'm with you Nick!! Jeter and the Yanks org are MULTI-MILLIONARES. They could've afforded to give this guy almost anything he wanted- for the rest of his life even. I hope they will be as stand upish as this guy is, and just pay the stupid tax for him, while showing this country just how low and vindictive our govt REALLY is.......IT'S A FREAKIN GIFT!! how much commons sense can this country keep losing?? Screw the tax law........

      July 12, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • JB

      Mr Mr Mr ... the guy was making a point you moron ... do you have to point out that a non-USA team is the richest in the world ... what an insecure pompous jerk you MUST be!

      July 12, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Today's CIA is tomorrow's IRS agent

    The CIA has moved it's Domestic Affairs Division to Denver, CO. Most American's are not even aware that the CIA even had a domestic division. Throughout history, once a world power has stretched it's borders as far as they will go, the only way to expand is internally. The CIA won't be disbanded once the last country is overthrown and occupied! They'll move to Denver and go to work on US.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:57 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bornforee

      You are a kook. Please go back and hide in your fusion center.

      July 12, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JT

    This is why I don't do good for anyone anymore. Ridiculous. The IRS can blow me.

    July 12, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • WardHorkin

      If this were facebook I would like this instead, I am going to comment and say that I "like" this. The IRS can blow me as well.

      July 12, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bogart

    The government needs to go to hell, so ridiculous the guy would need to pay taxes for this

    July 12, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. ionymous

    It sounds like the press brought the tax questions up in the first place. Just leave the guy alone.

    July 12, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Greg

    I am an accountant. Please don't hold this foolishness against our entire profession. I am also from Canada where this would be a non-issue. No tax implications, hell, we can win the lottery here and not have to worry about the taxman.

    July 12, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • JB

      REALLY!?!?! I'm an accountant in the US ... a guy whose living is improved by the complicated tax code that only the few know how to take advantage of. I'd surrender that advantage in a heartbeat for a plain and simple easy to understand tax code. I'm so disgusted in our tax code I'm about ready to take up arms!

      July 12, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Hey JB, I didn't say the whole tax code wasn't complicated. I can use my copy of the Income Tax Act to weigh down the back end of my pick up truck for added traction on our lovely icy roads.

      July 12, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ken

    This guy giving the ball to Jeter was one of the classiest if not the classiest move I've ever seen a Yankee fan do. He should not be hit with those taxes and there are things called gifts which when given under a certain amount does not have to be taxed or even reported to the IRS. So some one could gift Mr. Lopez a certain amount to offset this penalty.

    July 12, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. RM

    Christian will have to pay taxes for receiving gifts from the Yankees. Will the Yankees have to pay taxes for receiving a gift(ball) from Christian? A $5 ball, now worth how much?

    July 12, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • hightimes2007

      funny as you say it why didnt jeter get taxed on the $ 5.00 ball that the irs estimates at a million

      July 12, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jimmy Crack Corn

    The Mafia doesn't even come close to the crimes the IRS commits.

    July 12, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Tiffany

    Yankees should cover the cost or else it's not a "gift" at all.

    July 12, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Jake

    IRS has better things to do than to "possibly" go after this guy. Mind boggling.

    July 12, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. hightimes2007

    so are they going to put a IRS AGENT at every stadium to tax every home run ball or foul ball caught or bat given to a fan .. just so they can tax that lucky fan.......WHAT IDF A 12 YEAR OLD CAUGHT JETERS BALL AND GAVE IT BACK THEN GOT ALL THOSE GIFTS,, ARE THEY GOING TO PUT A 12 YEAR OLD INTO DEPT OR EVEN SEND HIM TO JAIL FOR NOT PAYING TAXES... irs and government needs to wake up look at all these goverment officials that dont pay a dime for all that gift money they spend of ours

    July 12, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • JB

      Don't tempt them! They need revenues badly right now!

      July 12, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • 12bdrumer

      Perfectly said.....I hope the IRS and govt hear about all of these responses everyone is posting. Enough is enough. The govt needs worrying about other REAL ssues one would assume. How about ALL of those politicians that get away without paying taxes?? You read and see that almost every stinking day.......Oh, sorry. That's totally different. The politicians and lawyers in the country- including the defense attorneys for Casey anthony, can kiss my $@%..........

      July 12, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JB

    I'm so disgusted with our government ... or I guess us. Next they'll be taxing you to take a dump!

    July 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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