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. fred

    Wouldn't Jeter be taxed on the estimated value of the baseball ? it was also given to him by the fan. If the Yanks gave him perks with an estimated vale of ~120K, couldn't the baseball's value be estimated as much ?

    July 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • seemstomeguy

      seems to me, in jeter's case, it would surely be a gift. seems to me.

      July 12, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. BarbaraSamburu

    what a load of crap!

    July 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • crewin

      my sentiments exactly!

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

      better than falling out of the stands and dying...

      July 12, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Shannon

    I don't see how this could be anything BUT a gift... for it to be considered taxable income wouldn't he have had to preform some sort of service for which they were paying him? And for it to be considered a prize, wouldn't he have had to participate in some sort of "game" to be the winner of the prize? He didn't work for the gifts, he wasn't competing to win them... let the man keep his GIFTS and not have to pay for them.

    July 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      @ Shannon – no.

      "for it to be considered taxable income wouldn't he have had to perform some sort of service for which they were paying him?"

      Taxable income does not require labor. Think of interest on a savings account. You accrue interest on the money but no labor is involved, yet it is taxable income (depending on your tax bracket).

      July 12, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • seemstomeguy

      "for it to be considered taxable income wouldn't he have had to preform some sort of service for which they were paying him?"

      seems to me, your logic is a little short. the analogy you should be considering is someone who wins a prize on a game show. they definitely have to pay taxes, with no services involved. seems to me.

      July 12, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Allison Tysinger

    It is a gift for being a decent person & giving Jeter the ball. IRS, back off!

    July 12, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. kayaker247

    the thought of these GIFTS being anything other than that is ridiculous! He GAVE the ball to Jeter. These lawyers are probably mets fans. (and everyone knows they're not as smart as Yankee fan lawyers).

    July 12, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. hightimes2007

    TIME TO WRITE OBAMA AND ASK FOR A PARDON

    July 12, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Paul

    Don't you realize that only if your name is General Electric or Exxon Mobile can you avoid paying taxes.

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

      seems to me, most of the people in these united states don't earn enough money to have to pay taxes. seems to me.

      July 12, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. alli

    this is the dumbest thing i've ever seen. i agree with shannon – he didn't perform a job for the yankees or compete in a sweepstakes or game for a prize. it is a gift, not income or a prize.

    July 12, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. hightimes2007

    IT WAS TIS FOR TAT MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS IRS

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

      seems to me, in that case, the taxes would be the value of TAT. seems to me.

      July 12, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. John

    Let me get this, he might end up paying more tax on a ball than GE did last year?

    July 12, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ccm

    shame on the IRS....someone doing a thoughful jester.....and he gets penalized......does the USA need money that BADLY

    July 12, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • 12bdrumer

      .......sure it needs the money.......just ask Obama, the dems AND the rep's who have out priced this country over the last 30 years....both parties are to blame.......and all for the almighty dollar!! ....

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

    @ Paul
    you said it.
    All this thanks to the thugs up on the Hill.

    July 12, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Linton Dawson

    Greatest country on Earth? Doubt it.....highly!

    July 12, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Larry Bird

    Unlike the Boston Red Sox organization and their lousy fans, Yankees have class.
    NY Yankees and their fans are the best. Whenever I'm in Boston, i get diarrhea.

    – Larry Bird, Terre Haute, Indiana

    July 12, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • seemstomeguy

      seems to me, you've got the same name as some athlete. seems to me.

      July 12, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tb

    Why do all the nice things in life have to be ruined by stupidity. wonder why people say life sucks.

    July 12, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
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