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. Nunya

    LMAO there is no way they would get a dime out of me. They have no right to any money unless the ma sells the ball, period.

    July 12, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christopher

      Agreed.... no actual cash in pocket = no necessity to pay a dime, in my opinion.

      July 12, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rift Raft

      "LMAO there is no way they would get a dime out of me." Mr. Brilliance, do you own a house? Do you realize that the IRS would have a first lien on it, or any future home you own?


      July 12, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • davidp


      So if I give you a million dollars to buy a million dollar house with, its ok to have to pay taxes on that house, but if I just give you the million dollar house suddenly its ok not to pay taxes? The end result is exactly the same, but you think just because no cash is involved in the 2nd step that suddenly its fine not to pay taxes. That being said, I think its a gift so I don't think any taxes should/will be paid, but not because no cash was involved.

      July 12, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • davidp

      its ok to pay taxes on that million*

      July 12, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • TOMGTO

      Please reread the article... he gave the ball back. The taxes owed are on the seats and extra stuff they gave him. I agree they shouldn't get a dime out of the deal unless he sold the seats or any of the stuff. Lessoned learned... all my free stuff when I catch a ball with stay under the table.

      July 12, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Shaitan

    No good deed and all that...

    July 12, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Nunya

    You can thank liberals for this nonsense. They are the ones who think everyone should be equal. Stupid losers.

    July 12, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • OOOKay


      July 12, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • dk

      Is your name Nunya, or Dubya?

      July 12, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rift Raft

      Right on Michelle, uh, I mean Nunya. 4 out of 5 dentists agree!

      July 12, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seola

      That's exactly what it is though. Taxable items like this – he got suites for a good deed and since no one else gets suites, they tax him to give to "low income" people who can't get suites so that hopefully one day, if you throw enough freebies at them, it will motivate them to go off and get suites so they can pay the next guy in line!

      July 12, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tripp

      I bet you get your political info from your church. Whats wrong with EVERYONE being equal? You think you're better than anyone else?

      July 12, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • dunya

      Actually, you can thank the Republicans for eliminating taxes for the rich and creating loopholes for corporations. Now, only the middle class has to pay and pay since we do not have corporate lawyers finding tax shelters for us. I am sure Jeter can loan him his accountant for a day and all will be well. Better equal than exploited and cheated.

      July 12, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seola

      Because Tripp – reality is that not everyone is equal. A doctor who develops a cure for cancer is not equal to a gun-toting gang criminal. Someone who does good things for nothing is not the same as the thief who robs a bank.

      July 12, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Glenn

      Definitely a liberal....any good conservative would have a tax loophole already lined up with their tax attorney and not be worried about paying taxes.

      July 12, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • hundredthhummingbird

      I would of keeped the hell out of that ball

      July 12, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. iwearglasses

    This whole nation is getting rediculous, I don't think i will be re-enlisting and fighting anymore. The sacrafices, don't out way the woes of what's going on in capital hill.
    Not to mention they were willing to pay them selves and not us fighting. No my bank Navy Federal was will to take that sacrafice and pay us, but not my employer.
    Well i can sit hear an bicker all i want, but it isn't going to solve anything. All i can say is i'm disgusted with reading articles like this and knowning this stuff is actually happening.

    July 12, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • John D

      Keep in mind that this is just a bunch of accountants musing about possibilities. There's no evidence the IRS is actually going to assess this as income.

      I think it's actually quite unlikely that they will, as what the Yankees gave this guy was, I think, pretty obviously a gift rather than a prize or consideration for a sale.

      July 12, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mink


      This whole nation is getting ridiculous. I don't think i will be re-enlisting and serving the country anymore. The sacrifices, don't out weigh the woes of what's going on in capital hill. <-- Consider rewording

      Not to mention they were willing to pay themselves, but not us fighting. No my bank Navy Federal was will to take that sacrifice and pay us, but not my employer. <-– Wait...wait?

      Well i can sit here and argue all i want, but it isn't going to solve anything. All i can say is "i'm disgusted" with reading articles like this and knowing this stuff is actually happening. <-– Corrected this sentence, doesn't need change

      Okay, now what I was to say is that I too serve in the United States military. If you are going to leave a comment and state you are in the military, do it a little more like you graduated 6th grade. I understand what you are saying, but you really do come off as ignorant when you don't even bother rereading and correcting your mistakes. That is, unless you did and didn't catch those errors.

      July 12, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rupert

    I cannot believe this guy gave the ball back. Jeter is a crajillionaire, not some street hobo. He makes in a weekend series what this ball will go for at auction. To him it's not a big deal. At least with an auction you have actual cash to pay the taxes. But now he has received valuable "benefits", just as good as income to the IRS but completely illiquid. He will have to sell tickets to some games to pay the tax on the boxes. It said the guy has 100k in student loans. Obviously all that expensitive schooling did him little good, maybe he snoozed during the math classes.

    Nice is returning someone's class ring from 50 years ago. Stupid is giving a multimillionaire a half million dollar gift.

    July 12, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kendo23

      I agree! What a knucklehead. And if the IRS comes knocking for taxes on this ball....if it were me, I would tell them to kiss my a$$$$$!

      July 12, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Duderino

    Haha, definition of a sensationalist article. The whole basis of this article is that a couple accountants said he MIGHT have to pay taxes on the gifts but it seems like they would just count them off as gifts.

    If the IRS really does make the guy pay, real dick move. I hope they don't, the guy seems like a cool dude.

    July 12, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Disgusted

    I am amazed at the comments made about this guy. This guy does something that does not revolve around a quick buck, and you are ready to crucify him. No wonder this country is going down the tubes. Not all in life revolves around money.

    July 12, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • drstudlee

      This guy is a prime example of how america is. We give the rich (jeter) a huge break while we have tons of debt and skip out on a chance to pay it off!

      July 12, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • AZMark

      Finally a voice of reason, I am a Phillies fan and HATE the Yankees. If it had been me and it was Phillies player, I would also give the ball back. If it had been a player from another team, e-bay it would be

      July 12, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kendo23

      A quick buck???? That money would have changed that guy's life fore than likely.....A guy working for Verizon wireless gives up the equivalent of about 6 years of his salary to do right by a multimillionaire baseball player who makes that amount in one weekend. Meditate on those ethics for a little while.

      July 12, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • RXW

      I agree. This guy was selfless. That ball could have sentimental value to Jeter. Who knows? Either way, the guy had real cajones to give up the chance to sell a ball and give it back. Everyone now is so greedy, and commenting about how terrible of a decision it was to give the ball back. All I have to say is he had the manhood to do it. Apparently not everyone does.

      July 12, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Apple

    He owes 100 k in student loans; he should consolidate with the federal gov. Dept of Education Directo Student Loan service which is part of the govt NOT through private banks; Direct Student Loan (should say dot gov in it's url) will give him the lowest possible interest and repayment based on his salary, paying interest up front. If he owes its the best way to get out from under student loan.

    July 12, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Cameron

    This isn't a comment about the article, but the SOB who posts negative comments on everyone's posts. Go get a job so you can actually go see what a baseball game looks like. Get out of your house a little bit..I'd say go to the park and relax, but you'd probably get arrested for being within 200ft of a park or school. Good luck on that half-full glass.

    July 12, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Figures

    Hey! Congrats on your historic and lucky catch!


    July 12, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. dot8

    Even if Christian would have kept the ball and sold it, he still would've had to pay taxable income taxes. He can't hide from the buzzards.

    July 12, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Graeme Rodgers

    No good deed goes unpunished in the land of phony opportunity.

    July 12, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Heather

    Just another fine example of how people with too much power screw the real american's.

    July 12, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. citizenUSA

    If he sold the ball or won a contest then I can see taxing him but he did not ask The Yankees for anything. They gave him gifts to show their appreciation of his loyalty to the team for giving up the ball. Nice guy, bad IRS.

    July 12, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ronald Reagan

    It's just a stupid baseball!

    July 12, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
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