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. Scott

    It's obviously a gift for returning a prized possession. I don't believe that his ticket to the game ever stated you have been entered into a prize contest worth $120k if you catch a homerun ball hit by Jeter on his 3,000th hit.

    July 12, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Pappa Smurf

    Typical liberals wanting money for something they didn't create or work for.

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

      What does that even mean?

      July 12, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. chris

    c'mon DJ scratch a check for the dude...

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

    I guess when your country is broke, you gotta collect every penny you can.

    July 12, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. CJ26

    IRS always wants their cut even when there is no income involved. This is ridiculous. It was a gift!! Maybe the Yankees should pay it for him, but then of course the great IRS would probably try to tax him on the 14 grand too.

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

      So, someone who has a better understanding of the tax law jump in here if you please, but i'm pretty sure that they way this would work would be with a 3rd party. Like, the yankees give jeter an extra 14k plus whatever his tax would be in salary. or jeter could just do it because he'as loaded. He would give the guy a gift of 14k for a 22nd birthday or a graudation or something, and they knew each other because of the bond that was developed by him catching Jeter's 3000th hit which was also a homerun. I'm pretty sure that's the workaround.

      July 12, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ken

    Just goes to show you that nothing is free according to the IRS. Big Brother is going to get his no matter what. Im in agreement with Scott and Pappa Smurf. Even if the Yankees paid this mans taxes owed, then he would be taxed on the Yankee's contribution to pay the taxes for him. Vicious cirlcle of the United States tax codes

    July 12, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Richie

    The Goverment blood suckers strike again, If we were'nt giving it away overseas. no one would care
    about alittle treat for him. Its a shame they feel the need to suck are wallets dry

    July 12, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mark

    It's a gift from the team for returning the ball period. A thank you if you will.

    July 12, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Lisa

    The team should be able to donate all that stuff...they hiked their alcohol prices, using a disclaimer in fine print that gratuity was included, however no gratuity is getting funneled to the servers, bartenders, etc. They're a sheisty team with tons of money to spare.

    July 12, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      Disgruntled server employee?

      July 12, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aetna

      Dude, if it's fine print, the implication is that I didn't read it. But because i didn't read it i thought my beer was just really expensive and tipped my beer guy anyway.

      July 12, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      Hard to read fine print after a few of those. Believe me , Im a victim of fine print reading when Ive had 10 or more beers

      July 12, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Fred

    Hold on now..I believe the Yankees sold all the tickets and gear to this gentlemen for $1, therefore he can now send the nickel tax to the goverment and tell them where to shove it......

    July 12, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ryan Polzin

    I would have kept the hell out of that ball!!!

    July 12, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Iplay2win

    What a JOKE!! The government once again wants a cut. So if the governement wants to tax Christian, why don't they want to tax Jeter? I mean he is getting something of monetary value from Christian, correct? This whole thing is a joke. Leave the kid and Jeter alone. The governemnt should worry about our unemployment numbers and not an exchange of gifts!

    July 12, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • JD

      Gift tax laws exist because people of a certain ideology feel that it's unfair for people to receive anything of value without paying taxes on it, regardless of how they receive it. Rest assured, if the recipient of this gift was either a business leader or a Republican, the comments would be clamoring for him to be taxed to death.

      July 12, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. MS

    Good lord, people.. take a breath. Nothing in this article suggests that the IRS has taken any position on this. CNN is just speculating so they have something to write about.

    July 12, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • JD

      Indeed, that's all they ever do anymore. Speculate – as news.

      July 12, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ZysPsyk

    23? That dude is more like 43.

    July 12, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Steve-O

    Cough up the tax money. Hell, at least he didn't fall out of the stands catching it.

    July 12, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
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