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. Bill

    Ball clubs write off gifts they give such as free seating to those I mentioned previously as a business and advertising expense. How about churches and charities we all give to, do those organizations pay tax on that. No, because it was a gift.

    How about the government, do they pay tax on all the money we give them in taxes and that was not a gift. Out of every dollar I make, I wonder how much I really get after Federal, state, and local taxes. Sales taxes and property taxes I pay with what I bought with the same dollar I earned.

    Taxes should be for supporting our infrastructure, protection, and defense. Our retirement, social security payments, and medicare tax should be used for our retirement years and when we can no longer work. It should not be used for supporting other government projects and the foreign wars the politicians get us into. If a private sector company did that, executives would be in jail for misuse of funds etc...

    July 12, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jodi

    What the man received was a gift or reward for returning the ball, not a prize. This should not be considered taxable income. if that is the case, then he needs to put a value on the ball that was given as a gift back to Jeter to equal the amount of the gift he was given.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  3. dutspup

    sounds like a gift to me you IRS leeching mofia like thugs

    July 12, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  4. Gayledenise

    Let me try to understand this. The tax code is written in a way that we can't get multimillionaire hedge fund managers to pay their share of taxes but the IRS can access a $14,000 tax bill for a fan that caught a baseball??????

    July 12, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Julia

      Yes, this is part and parcel of the new GOP Promise:
      At all cost we will protect the wealthy, by preferably taxing the Middle Class and poor.
      GO-GO, you blood-suckers!!!

      July 12, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • renjikuchiki1

      welcome to the capitalist system!

      July 12, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  5. justice 4 all

    Jeter makes more $$$ in one lousy game than this fan makes working full time in five years. If Jeter really wants the ball for his collection or for donating, I say let Jeter pull a little pocket change out of his fat piggy bank and pay this fan his due share of the balls estimated value.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  6. Philip

    Well, at least this guy only has the IRS to fear right now. Once Uncle Sam runs out of countries to occupy, we'll find out why the CIA moved it's Domestic Affairs Division to Denver, CO. I have a hunch that instead of getting a letter from the IRS, we'll be getting a knock on our dooe frrom two men in dark suits and glasses. I can see the CIA investigating welfare fraud too. Not to mention phony disability claims. I can see our Homeland Security prisons full of lazy American's who have been bilking the system, even for generations. Workshy individuals have it coming, and the CIA will be delivering it in the near future.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Hamid77

      That's not the CIA's wheelhouse. Domestic intelligence is homeland security and the FBI. Cute idea, but better suited to one of the ten million stupid TV shows about "government work".

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

    this is what happens if you are a Yankee fan (a.k.a. life sucks)

    July 12, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • SourSox

      simply put......... 27 Championships doesnt suck for Yankee fans. Does if your not a Yankee fan though like you.

      July 12, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  8. Chris

    Keyword is if they "could". This guy will most likely get away from having to pay since all he has to do is state that it was given to him as a gift and ensure that the Yankees management agrees. But don't be surprised what the IRS would not be ashamed to do. They did it to Joe Louis, an American heavyweight champion hero, who earned a lot of money throughout his heavy weight championship years, but unfortunately died in debt with the IRS who expected him to pay up money he supposedly owed. The sad part is, his manager stiffed him of what he was worth by only paying out $800,000 of his 4.6million career earnings which the IRS held him accountable for. Despite this he remained generous with his money giving it to his family and friends and others who needed it including charities, and even cutting checks for government and civic programs. Mind you, this is a guy who years prior volunteered in the Army during WWII and helped raise money for the war through boxing bouts. He also donated money for programs related to helping the war effort. He beat out the heavy weight Max Schmeling of Nazi germany during a bout. His issues with the IRS got to the point where he forced himself out of retirement to fight in matches he couldn't win just to try and earn money to pay off his debt. His friends felt so bad that they helped by paying off some of his $500,000 debt. The IRS couldn't even give this American hero a break and credit the generous funds he donated to charities, government, and civic programs over the years. He was a door greeter at the very end of his days and died a broke and used man. His funeral was paid for by his ex opponent turned good friend, Max Schmeling.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  9. A Different Mike

    Just remember - No good deed goes unpunished!

    July 12, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  10. theDude

    yankees suck. but they'd suck less if they figured out a way to bail this dude out.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  11. Dolly

    I recenty bought myself a one way Greyhound bus ticket on their website because I was emptying a storage unit and driving the contents back to my home 400 miles away in a U-Haul truck. On their website they charge you a 15% gift tax if you buy a bus ticket for someone other than yourself using your credit card. But when I buy my daughter an airline ticket on say Southwest Airlines which costs much more money than a bus ticket, I am not charged a gift tax. Just another example of our system grinds poor people into the ground.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jerry

    "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," Boy what crap !!! Come up with anything to keep accountants busy !!!!!

    July 12, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  13. DanTheMAn

    He should have brought his child to the game. He catches the ball then gives it to his child as a gift, then his child gives the ball back. therefore no Taxes for the IRS & any other gift his child recieves from the NY is not taxible 🙂

    July 12, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  14. Bryan in Georgia

    This story makes me want to vomit. Why are we allowing this to happen?

    July 12, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  15. OBG

    Just another example of how screwed up our tax code and IRS is. I wonder if the IRS pursues our elected leaders for taxes on the value of perks they receive from companies, lobbies, and the government.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
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