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. Malibook

    This is ridiculous.
    If he had put the ball up for auction, then yes he should be taxed.
    He didn`t make any demands or negotiate compensation.
    I gave the ball away with no strings attached and he got a reward/gift in return.
    This guy is so cool and he doesn`t even have a problem with paying outrageous taxes.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • jorge washinsen

      Catching that ball came paid in full with his ticket That is part of the game.Why not go after perks given to CEO's with the same zeal.

      July 12, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Keep in mind that no one has asked for any tax money – it is simply the newspaper inventing a story. I would have sold the ball.

      July 12, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  2. Cal

    Really? Really? This guy at every turn demonstrates a kindness and generosity that everyone should aspire to. In these days of unfettered greed and the "me" generation, this guy gets the shaft from the IRS? If they go after him for this, then I believe the entire world is doomed!

    July 12, 2011 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      Not the whole world – just the U.S.

      July 12, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  3. JAMES BACK

    MAYBE HE SHOULD MEET WITH ' G E ' THEY COULD TELL HIM HOW TO DODGE THE TAXES

    July 12, 2011 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. Comments4u

    Next, they'll tax the family of the texas ranger fan who fell over the railing and died. Ron Paul 2012

    July 12, 2011 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • just_another_idiot

      Ron Paul fell over a railing and died? Bummer.

      July 12, 2011 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  5. scott

    Cal – Yes, this would mean the wreck of the entire world.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  6. Gary M

    This guy is a better man than me! He has student loans in the amo of 100,000 not he may need to pay 14,000 in taxes, thats why i woulld have sold the ball since good guys always finish last!!

    July 12, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  7. Ed Peterson

    numerology for Christian Lopez:

    http://edpetersonnumerology.com/2011/07/12/numerology-for-christian-lopez/

    July 12, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  8. Chris

    Calm down, ladies and gentlemen. Nothing in this article says the IRS has told this guy that he has to pay taxes on his "loot"; as the article says, "[t]he IRS WOULD consider" the tickets and memorabilia as taxable income.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  9. Brian

    It's nice being nice and all, but there is a time and a place that bending backwards isn't a noble thing.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  10. Belarius Marek

    I'm VERY sick of the government taxing everything. Time to stop paying.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      This is precisely what I was talking about. Nothing in this article says the government is going to tax this guy for the stuff he got from the Yankees. All this says is that the tickets and memorabilia would be considered taxable income under the Federal tax code. Nothing more, nothing less.

      July 12, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Andy

      That's why Greece is in the hole they're in right now. Brilliant idea /s

      July 12, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  11. carlos guzman

    why can't we implement a flat tax and get rid of those sums at the IRS. Ron Paul 2012 baby!

    July 12, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  12. CSnord

    It is not likely that the IRS is going to be very sympathetic - Obama needs every dime he can get to pay for the government's screw-ups - past, present, and future.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  13. r rega

    We can hope that the Yankee organization will handle any tax implication to Mr.Lopez for his actions.The IRS has a job to do.The Yankees do too.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  14. Alex in NJ

    This reminds me of the Pauli Walnuts character in The Sopranos asking one of the lower level guys, "Where's my taste?" That's basically what the IRS has become, a bunch of shakedown artists. Apparently this guy seems like he's okay with paying but what if he couldn't? What if a kid had caught the ball, would they go after the kid for 14 grand? This is really just ridiculous and the IRS needs to lay off.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  15. AO

    This definitely looked like a gift, i didn't see any advertising for a contest or win a prize for catching the ball.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
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