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. Queen Lattice

    I would have kept the hell out of that ball!

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

      You've said this twice now, and I still have no idea what you're saying.

      July 12, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bobba Fett

      what the

      July 12, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • hundredthhummingbird

      I would have kept the hell out of that ball

      July 12, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • JoeJoe

      Derek Jeter should be ashamed of himself. Make it right Derek pay the kid's loan. He has made over $200 Mill in his life time – $100k is literally like $100 Dollars to him.

      July 12, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lance

      Since DJ is skipping tonight's game – perhaps he should gift his $500K bonus for making the team to Lopez.

      July 12, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Queen Lattice

    I would have kept the h ell out of that ball!!!!

    July 12, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dr. Mantis

    Gotta pay for all of America's parasites and welfare queens some how

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

      Right, because people on welfare make soo much money.

      July 12, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Gotta pay for those tax breaks for the rich somehow. Are these the parasites you speak of?

      July 12, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • I pray for you

      I pray for you and your kind if this economy goes south......

      July 12, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • hundredthhummingbird

      I woul d have kept the hel l out of that ball.

      July 12, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • k

      exactly Jeff, all those tax breaks the Republicans gave the millionaires billionaires and corporations have to be paid somehow because Republicans think the national debt and taxes is something the middle class should worry about

      July 12, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • k

      and when I say middle class I mean working class, not sure how much of a middle class there is anymore, basically if you are a working man you are a sucker, the point is to get really rich like the Republicans want, or to get really poor so you get free hand outs, the working man is a sucker

      July 12, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Evan

      So what that that mean?? This is baseball no racist rants. Clinton took care of your so called "wellfare Queens" long time ago. So... stick a bat in your mouth and hit a home run punk.

      July 12, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jon Hemingway

    Another money grab!
    If it had happened here in Canada he would not have to pay anything. As with all lottery winnings in Canada, it is tax free!

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

      Yeh and they just areest you for throwing a baseball that hiots a segull.

      July 12, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Ya, but your marginal income tax rates are about 5% higher across the board. I'm not saying that's bad, I'm just saying the Canadian government isn't as generous as you imply...

      July 12, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. rDS

    The "Litmus test" should be time. Was the ball given to the Yankees BEFORE the giver knew he was getting anything ?? If so.....it was a "gift" . If the Yankees said "we'll take care of you if you hand over the ball" then it's payment.
    Pretty simple actually I think.

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

      Spot-on analysis ! Good job

      July 12, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • davidp

      I think that was covered in this statement "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" But yes, you are right.

      July 12, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • DHarri

      I agree, he had no prior knowledge after catching and immediately returning the ball that he would be liable for any taxes and most likely had no prior expectations of receiving anything for his actions thus making them a gift. Its just in bad taste but then again were talking about our American "wasteful" Government.

      July 12, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Juan Garza

      @rDs, well said...too bad common sense doesn't float anymore.

      July 12, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. davetharave

    Maybe Derek Jeter could take care of the taxes for him, if it turns out he owes them. I don't think 14K is too big a deal for somebody making north of 20 million a year.

    July 12, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Then the government would find a way to claim that as income and tax his taxes! Gotta love the liberals

      July 12, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mikey

      Yes it would be the right thing to do for Jeter to pony up the money if indeed the IRS claims it is income- but then would that also be considered income? OMG its a vicious cycle to infinity !!

      July 12, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Seriously?

    Trust the IRS to ruin a great American moment.

    July 12, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jonathan

    do the yankees have to pay taxes on the ball that was given to them? He gave them the ball, they gave him seats and autographed memorabilia - it seems more like a trade of equivalently valued items, than taxable income.

    July 12, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. BessBoll

    He shoulda KEPT the freakin' ball and sold it on Ebay.

    July 12, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Redeyedman

    It wasnt a prize. He GAVE a ball back to them and they GAVE him a bunch of free stuff. Gifting is untaxable. He didnt win the lotto, or a slot machine. NO TAXES DUE.

    July 12, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ben

    How about the Yankees step up and pay the taxes. Super weak on their part.

    July 12, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Classy

    Classy guy showing a lot of grace.....BTW, the govt. could take your land and lease it to an oil co. , who then could knock down your house and build a natural gas/ oil rig in its place and there isn't a GD thing you could do about it.....Doesn't mean it will ever happen to you......But hey, lets get mad anyway.....*eyeroll

    July 12, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CeeFoR

    Poorly written article ... why would he have to pay taxes? There is no mention of money.

    July 12, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mike

    Am I missing something? Everyone is ragging as if the IRS has already issued a tax notice to this guy. As I understand it – a couple of accounts (NOT the IRS) have said to the newspapers that he's going to owe taxes for the value of what they gave him. I haven't seen anything saying that the IRS has even made a public comment, let alone a determination whether it was earned income or a gift. Jeeze - take a moment to actually READ what you're commenting on!

    July 12, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Givemeaname

    The value of that ball is the cost of a used baseball until in is sold. He has the right to sell it at any value form 25 cents to millions as long as someone is willing to shell out the money. Anyway it is all a gift from the baseball stadium or the team. But it could also go this way the ball is a gift and the rest is a prize for catching the gift, he needs a lawyer in the end if wants to keep as much money in his pocket.

    July 12, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
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