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. Jay

    If Jeter was a man he would write the guy a check to cover the tax bill. He's got more money than God anyway. I am a Yankee hater, which means I am a Jeter hater, but I would gain much respect for him if he didn't leave this guy hanging out to dry for being generous. The guy could have made some serious money by selling that ball, but he did the right thing. Now let's hope Jeter and/or the Yankees do the right thing in return.

    July 12, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • DEH TOOK ER JOBS

      Its jeter fault he hit a home run and the yankees gave the guy free gifts? This guy would have to pay taxes if he had sold it for 140,000k....If he doesn't want compensation for the ball, then don't accept any. If he accepts compensation he should pay for it! You turds act like he is some patronage saint and the "man" is trying to steal his last breadcrumb.

      July 12, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      But then he would owe taxes on the money given to pay the taxes.

      July 12, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Linda

    He is such a nice guy!

    July 12, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Tom

    Way to make a non-story a story...."could owe money but most likely will not" CNN is worse than US Magazine in its pandering...

    July 12, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. DEH TOOK ER JOBS

    DER...WE SHOULDN'T PAY THEM THERE TAXES ON FREE GIFTS...DER..

    WHAT YOU MEAN SOME CEO GAVE HIMSELF 20 MILLION GIFT FROM HIS COMPANY AND WASN'T TAXED? DER IM STUPID AVERAGE AMERICAN...IMMA GO VOTE FOR BACHMANN NOW

    July 12, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. hightimes2007

    SEE WHAT BEING A NICE GUY DOES TO YOUR SELF ESTEEM

    July 12, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Wet

    What an idiot. Hands over the ball ... ha ha ha ha.

    July 12, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • debbie

      What an idiot to think that...

      July 12, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. hightimes2007

    ROSS PEROT FOR PRESIDENT

    July 12, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Pete

    I love the Yankees and if push came to shove, I am only guesses that Jeter would do the right thing and help him out, bare none. By the way, the Red Sox BLOW

    July 12, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • DB

      Well, they blow by the Yankees, that is for sure.

      July 12, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anne

      Pete, being a Red Sox Fan my only answer is: Who's in first place?

      July 12, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rob

    I'll keep that in mind next time I go to the ball park, a home run will be like a hot potato exchanging hands in the outfield.

    July 12, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • DEH TOOK ER JOBS

      Moron...You do not get taxed for catching a home run...You get taxed for the compensation if you sell it or receive taxable income...Your so STUPID!!!!

      July 12, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • jboy

      It's "you're" so stupid, not "your".....looks like you aren't a member of MENSA either.

      July 12, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • DEH TOOK ER JOBS

      Jay the fact you are correcting grammar on comments shows me you lack intelligence. Also English as all languages have no exact tangible value as they are man-made and ever changing...Sorry YOU'RE dumb. Happy artard?

      July 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. clepto

    nah...dont throw it back...get the hell out of the stadium and just sell it on the black market...

    July 12, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Splinter48708

    Leave it to the Gov to ruin a guy's generosity. All he wanted was some autographed stuff. The Yankees offered him a lot more than that, so, the Yankees should do the honorable thing and call the more expensive things a gift above and beyond what was asked. Actually, an autographed baseball is an even trade for the ball heading for the HoF. The other stuff should be considered as a gift.

    I hate this stuff, to be honest with you. MONEY is income. If it's something like what this guy got as a gift from the Yankees, that shouldn't be counted as income. He can't spend any of it like cash. Let him enjoy the GIFT from the team in the spirit it was given. Either that or MLB does the unthinkable and forced home run balls and fouls to be returned to the team for nothing. They're property of the league, so, they can insist that it be returned. Of course they don't do that because it's not going to work.

    Oh, that's right, the baseball is a prize for truly random selected fans, highly coveted by said fans...Does the IRS apply an income tax of the ball, or the state tax authorities say that the baseball is considered income and to fail to disclose that is worth 5 years in the pen for tax evasion.

    Gee...what next...A breathing tax. You get taxed for the very air that you breathe and is computed based on a scale? How much air does a person's lungs hold and tax on the cubic feet a person breathes during the year? Bah, Humbug.

    July 12, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • DEH TOOK ER JOBS

      Generosity? He was compensated for giving them the ball...It is no different then selling it....He could have given it to a charity where they could auction it off...He would of actually have gotten a tax break from that...but, like you he is dumb and traded it in for goods and services...WHICH ARE TAXABLE!

      Dumby.

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

    Of course they'll tax him! It's too much to make the rich pay any taxes...they might throw a tantrum and refuse to pay their favorite politicians any more. After all, we have the best government officials money can buy.

    July 12, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. hightimes2007

    THIS IS CALLED ...THE NEW IRS PONZI SCAM...... TAKE FROM THE NICE POOR FAN AND GIVE TO THE RICH CORRUPTED GOVERNMENT

    July 12, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • DEH TOOK ER JOBS

      This is not a ponzi scheme at all...Do you know what a Ponzi Scheme is even? I'm guessing no...cause your stupid.

      July 12, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. nothing suprises

    well this does only make sense... someone has to pay for all of our wonderful, left winger ideals of 'giving things to people that dont deserve them.' I mean, we cant just pay for things via the printing press ...or, uh... wait...
    Only 40% of America filed taxes... gotta get the rest of the money from somewhere right? Or we can cut all the BS programs, not spend a ton of money on nothing, balance the budget, limit the fed and control the Wall Street controlled politicians and maybe this would be a non-issue... or not.

    July 12, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • DEH TOOK ER JOBS

      I guess you would be happy if your boss gave himself a big fat tax-free bonus for giving the company a cardboard box then right? Dumby...this tax law has a purpose it is too close a curropt tax loop that corporations and executives were using to compensate themselves tax free. I know you too stupid to understand that...but its a good thing.

      July 12, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mtjfb28

    The ball was worth at least as much, if not more, than what the Yanks are giving him. He took a loss by giving the ball up and this would offset any gains he got from the Yanks.

    July 12, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • DEH TOOK ER JOBS

      He did not take a loss...He can probably deduct the amount he paid for his ticket...other then that any income earned on the ball should be considered taxable income. As he did nothing but get lucky and catch a ball.

      July 12, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • debbie

      Since the ball never went on the market there is no way to determine it's value. So he can't take a loss between what the ball might have brought him vs what the Yankees gave him in exchange for it. However, I'm certain the Yankees understand the tax laws and know that they can gross up the gift and pay the taxes for this fan. Before we all start getting crazy here let's assume that someone at the Yankees knows what they are doing – and if they choose to not gross it up and this guy has to pay the taxes then it sounds like he's ok with that so stop slamming on this

      July 12, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • mtjfb28

      He did take a loss, the ball was worth something and he gave it away for less than it was worth, that is a loss and tax deductible.

      July 12, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • mtjfb28

      You don't have to offer something for sale before it has value, it is simple tax law.

      July 12, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
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