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. Para

    Unbelievable! Some National Sport, when you become afraid to catch a ball in the stands because your tax bill could go out of the park! It's foul!

    July 12, 2011 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. Larry L

    The government did what to deserve that tax income?

    July 12, 2011 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Chr

      The goverment does what to earn my income tax?

      July 12, 2011 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Wes

      Defend you with police and military, put roads under your feet, provide medical assistance to your poor cousin.

      July 12, 2011 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe in Pittsburgh

      What did the government do to "deserve" your tax money?

      The biggest three tax expenditures are Medicare, Medicade and Social Security. Assuming these programs survive, you will eventually need to put them to use (or maybe a family member already does).

      Next on the list: interest on the National Debt, followed closely by military expenditures. Whether you believe in the multiple wars in which this country is currently embroiled or not, those soldiers definitely deserved to be paid and supported.

      Federal Highways, the FDA, national parks, various programs for the poor... the list goes on...

      July 12, 2011 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  3. gary

    This is so unreal, the government will stop at nothing and turn what was a great day for this guy into misery .

    July 12, 2011 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
  4. ronvan

    Just another example of how screwed up our country has gotten! I guess "good will/gestures" are now rewarded with a kick in the teeth!

    July 12, 2011 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Drew

      I can think of a gesture to give the IRS in this case.

      July 12, 2011 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  5. LarryM

    I have never met Lopez and probably never will. But he is becoming one of my favorite people. But, let's be clear, it is accountants saying this, not the IRS. Let's hear from them before we rake them over the coals on this.

    July 12, 2011 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
    • stickman

      agreed... very classy guy.

      July 12, 2011 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Thanks Larry.. a voice or reason. The IRS said nothing, quit blaming them for a news outlet trying to make a story out of thin air to get page hits.

      July 12, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. kelly

    Give me a f@%*'in break!!! UNBELIEVABLE!!! The USA is first class SCREW UP!!!!! Tax everything they can !! And still can't take care of our people!!

    July 12, 2011 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
    • ak

      u dont like it, leave

      July 12, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  7. Tm

    You would think Jeter and/or the Yankees would do the right thing and pay the guy the fair market value of the ball. The guy is $200k in debt due to college, and now more in debt if he has to pay taxes on the "season" tickets he received. Jeter and Yanks: do the right thing

    July 12, 2011 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Bcounsell

      He would still have to pay tax on the money he recieved from the Yanks for the ball. That is the worst situation for the guy. They way the Yanks did it is the way to go, will be considered a gift. Same thing happened tothe guy that caught Barry Bonds 756 Hr ball.

      July 12, 2011 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
    • mtjfb28

      The loss from giving the ball up will more than offset the gifts from the Yanks.

      July 12, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • So...

      The Dude choose to spend 200k to go to college! He should have to pay for it, I am going to college now and working full time so I don't have 200k in loans! You talk like it was not HIS choice!

      July 12, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Faith

      @So... - Ever taken a look at what it takes to get additional degrees? If he got his associates, then his bachelors, then his masters, he's already way down. If, say, he followed with going to medical school, or law school, he's WAY down. You don't get to go to medical school without going at LEAST $100k into debt unless someone picks up the tab for you or you get a ridiculous amount of scholarships.

      July 12, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • j

      While I have no doubts that this whole situation will get resolved properly (i.e. without a loyal fan being screwed for 14k) it's amusing to see someone to the right thing, and get bent over a barrel for it.

      He could have just put the ball on Ebay, sold it for a couple hundred thousand, and easily paid any taxes with that (plus his college debt) ... But no, he's shows his dedication to the team, and the US shows it's dedication to money.

      July 27, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Stevo


    July 12, 2011 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
  9. monica

    Good Grief – that's just sad!

    July 12, 2011 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
  10. Drew

    Sheer lunacy.

    July 12, 2011 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
  11. kat

    I don't see how it could be considered a prize if there was no contest

    July 12, 2011 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
  12. Steve

    He didn't want anything in return for the ball, but they gave him all this stuff anyway. Why would that not be considered a gift?

    July 12, 2011 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  13. Anathoth

    Now I despise the kgb, I mean IRS as much as anyone and think it is the height of corruption, bureaucracy, and a shining of example of what is wrong with our system. However, I didn't say they would charge him, it said it could charge him. Also, with this guy being a NY Celebrity of the moment. I'm sure there's no shortage of NY Tax Lawyers that can help him out on this if push comes to shove. I think he will be ok.

    July 12, 2011 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  14. Fan

    why is it Jeter's/Yankees responsiblity to pay him fair market value on the ball? So Jeter should have to pay 200K to get back a piece of his own history that he worked hard to achieve, just because he "has the money"? Bottom line – it is a gift from the Yankees to a stand up guy, who did an unselfish thing and if the gov't makes him pay taxes then shame on them.

    July 12, 2011 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Zippy

      Absolutely: shame on the government.

      July 12, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. nonono

    The government wanting taxes on something that they had nothing to do with?? of course they do. Tax payer money helped pay for the stadium. taxes are attached tot he tickets to the game, taxes are on the food and drink purchased at the stadium that the tax money purchased. A fan literally GIVES the ball for hit #3000 back and the club wants to do some good PR and the government has to step in and put a stop sign up because this could be taxable income?? HOW is this taxable income for Christian Lopez?? This was a gift from the club to a person that did NOT ask for anything in return. Another example of Taxation without Representation!!

    July 12, 2011 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Julia

      Sorry you haven't been told: "Taxation without Representation" only belongs to big ultra wealthy corporations who can afford lobbyists and Thousands in campaign contributions. Oh, btw, they also own 100% of the vote in this country, as they choose who gets to run. Reality for We The People has ceased to exist. We can't even rely on the Supreme Court any longer.

      July 12, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
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