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. CC

    IT'S A GIFT!!! The damned IRS is always trying to pick the pockets of the average American citizen.

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

      They'd tax us for sunshine, rain, and breathing if they could.

      July 12, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. Greg

    I'm not exactly sure how things work except for doing my own taxes with a computer program but I would think that the gentleman could show a loss on his taxes by making a "donation" – what was the estimated value of the home run ball that he caught – was turning the ball over considered a gift? Why should one man's loss of potential revenue be taxable? Mr. Lopez, ask for the ball back, sell it on Ebay, pay your taxes and keep the change.

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

      Greg, I think you need to read the article more carefully. This has nothing to do with the ball itself. He turned the ball over to the Yankees promptly. In return they gave him signed memorabilia and a suite for the season. This is what Mr. Lopez could potentially need to pay taxes on. Not the ball itself.

      July 12, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Unfortunately the Yankees are not a 501(c)(3) recognized charitable organization or any other non-profit charity. However, I'm sure the Yankees and/or Jeter will step up and do the right thing if for nothing else, to avoid the huge negative press they'll get if they don't.

      July 12, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  3. Karl

    Simple: if he can get his income up into the top 5% of the country he won't have to pay any taxes at all.

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

      Bully for, old chap!! That's quite right!

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

      how do you figure that? all the graphs i've seen show the top 5% pay their share of taxes ..as well as the share of those who haven't contributed anythying. ..
      http://www.heritage.org/budgetchartbook/top10-percent-income-earners

      July 12, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Typical democrat propaganda. The top earners pay the highest percentage. It's the lowest earners that pay nothing. The vast majority of taxes are paid by the wealthy. BTW, I make less than 70k.

      July 12, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Thats funny, I'm pretty sure that the approximately 40% of Americans who dont pay taxes lie in the lowest 30-40% of the income spectrum. And as for the top 5% of the country, which obviously you aren't in if your complaining about it, they already pay the most taxes to keep others who don't living. Oh and I forgot to mention that they are on the brink of paying a lot more too. How dare someone be successful and make money....

      July 12, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  4. the_dude

    Why not just dont pay the taxes? That seems to work for people on obama's staff.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Magic01

      That's right! Everything comes down to the Obama administration. Good lead. Go get a life!

      July 12, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jack

    This is a stupid article. It's obvious that the ball was given freely and without strings. There are numerous interviews from the very beginning that support this point. As a result, anything the team did in return was not out of obligation but out of generosity. Therefore it's a gift and not income. The fact is – anyone can see this – and writing a story that makes it seem like the IRS is going to scr*w this guy is entirely unfair to the IRS.

    Now, if you'd like to write a story about how Jim Kavanagh fails to declare the free meals he gets during the course of his job as income thereby cheating the IRS, I'm all ears.

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

      "It's obvious that the ball was given freely and without strings."

      Wrong. Clearly the guy knew he would get in the news, probably get some kind of reward, etc. He's not a saint.

      July 12, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  6. Andy

    Everyone who reads this comment should pay a tax for being graced with my wisdom.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  7. B in NJ

    Lopez for President! This guy has more common sense and principles than any clown in Washington, DC.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  8. Pravaa

    Why is this even news? Has the IRS contacted him about taxes already? All this is based on "the IRS could....". Why write such a bogus article on something that has not happened yet?

    July 12, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  9. David

    People love to criticize the IRS, but aren't they simply people doing the job for which they were hired? Remember, they didn't make the laws for which they are trying to enforce.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  10. JMc

    Taking money from one person and giving it to another is called stealing. I have no problem paying taxes to cover the cost of government, roads, the military and other organizations and functions, but I do have a problem with paying taxes that are then just given to people who have done nothing to earn my money.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  11. Bill

    Bull crap. Ball clubs, other sports groups, and even the WWE gives out free seating and advertising parafanalia to armed forces, disabled veterans, muscular dystrophy and other handicaps. He received a gift and not compensation for the ball he got. People working for the government and private sector need to start using some common sense or be held accountable for making bad decisions that affect other people, including the IRS, Congress, Senate, and Judges. He did not win a lottery. He paid taxes on the money he earned to pay for his ticket to go to the game.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  12. scott sportzfan

    I applaud the young man for giving the ball to Jeter but we all saw this coming. To those who said he shouldn't ask for money, you've been naive. The Yankees gave this guy tickets, etc. in exchange for the ball. This will be viewed as a taxable event by the IRS. Can't escape the man! Dude should have said, "keep the tickets and perks. I'll take the money instead because you KNOW the tax man will be hunting me down later". Simple as that. The ball has a monetary value. Guy should have gotten that value so he can, at least, walk away with half of that money after the IRS gets theirs.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  13. JAF86

    I hope the auditor is not a Red Sox fan...

    July 12, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  14. JohnnyOh2323

    Wow, how is this guy so nice. I'm going to try to be selfless today in honor of him.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  15. Big Brain

    Jeter should pay the frickin taxes he makes $14K sitting on the bench.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
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