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. GaryB

    Christian Lopez is a breath of fresh air. So many people would have had that ball up on eBay five minutes after catching it. So many others would whine about the potential of paying taxes on their unexpected good fortune (you know, kind of like the oil execs who make millions on billions of company profits, then whine when the government want to take away their company's welfare). Lopez is truly a rare class act.

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

      Christian Lopez owes more than 100K in student loans and works as a customer service rep. What a total moron!!!! Any person with half a brain would sell that ball. Do you think Mr. 3000 would least pay off his student loans for him? Wow some seats and autographed crap!!! This is a prime example of a Yankees fan, a total idiot!!!!!!

      July 12, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      A class act? What kind of a class act throws away money?

      July 12, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • K33

      So, let me get this straight:

      A guy does something that is a rarity, acts in a selfless way, gives the ball back, is rewarded for his kindness and you folks at CNN think it is a good idea to run right to tax attornies/accountants to see if he's going to get smacked?

      This is exactly what is wrong with the media these days. Instead of focusing on all the good things that happen you choose instead to take a good person, report on how he could get nailed by tax implications and then reap the benefits from your sensationalized reporting.

      I think the line between reporting the news and creating the news is getting crossed more and more often and I'm getting tired of it.

      July 12, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mdoutdrsmn

    So, The ball that Jeter received from the fan....was it considered a Gift or a Prize as well ??

    July 12, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ted Samuels

      Excellent question. If the ball could sell for $1M, wouldn't Jeter have to pay taxes on that?

      July 12, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. nellyv

    Christian is handling this in a classy manner. Good for him! I'm sure they will assist him if he does have to pay taxes.

    July 12, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • nathan

      unfortunately the IRS never does the same... because they are career criminals.

      July 12, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      The IRS is the Devil!

      July 12, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Esteban

    I can't imagine that Mayor Bloomberg (or a designated NY big hitter) wouldn't cough up the coin to cover Christians tax bill if it came to that. Just don't expect any Republican Job Creator to chip in.

    July 12, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • bromung

      Republicans are actually more generous and giving than democrats. Look it up ya ignorant tard.

      July 12, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Yeah, but then that $14,000 is taxable...

      July 12, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. realdeal


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

    kudos to christian lopez for not thinking of himself by making big bucks off the sale of the ball and giving jeter the ball back from his history making 3000th hit. maybe jeter and the yankees could pay his taxes if the irs decides the items he received were not a gift.

    July 12, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Conic

      If Jeter helped the guy pay the taxes, the IRS would also consider that to be income and tax Christian for that too! No fooling!

      July 12, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ted Samuels

      Couldn't several players chip in a few thousand dollars as a gift and keep it under the $10,000 taxable limit. That's the way I understand it in the great state of Texas.

      July 12, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. I love Sandra

    Lopez is a class act like Jeter is. Too bad the IRS is totally the opposite.

    July 12, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bryan

    All the guy nees to do is sell off 2 of the 4 seats for every game he has for the rest of the season to cover the costs. He can still go to all of the games and keep all of the bats and jerseys. I think he'll manage just fine.

    July 12, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      First sane response I've read on here. Good thinking!

      July 12, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Beezer

    Only $14,000 in taxes on $120,000? Geez, I want to be in his tax bracket!

    July 12, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Respect

    The I.R.S. is the most vile organization on the face of the Earth. Trying to tax anything and everything.

    What makes me even more nauseous is that the pro-tax crowd is jumping up and down right now because somebody else who had success will have to pay a tax.

    July 12, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris R

      I have a deal for you – you can stop paying taxes *if* you stop using everything that those taxes pay for. I mean everything – no unemployment security, not social security, no police or fire service, no use of the public roads, no subsidized breaks on food or fuel. If you can give up everything that your taxes gets you then you, my dear friend, can stop paying taxes.,

      July 12, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Robert

    Derek just needs to pay the guy's taxes!

    July 12, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ted Samuels

    This is a class act. The least the Yankees can do is pony up 1/10000 of their overblown salaries to pay the guys taxes. Jeter himself could pay it and it wouldn't even be a drop in the bucket.

    July 12, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jerry

    If he has to pay any sort of taxes the Yankees should do whats right and pony up the dough and pay the tax bill for him.

    July 12, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. cpc65

    THE absolute most assanine thing I have EVER heard! I would not be so cool about it. I'd tell them to pull their G*d damn claws out of my pockets!

    July 12, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. HardHeadedLibs

    And doofus Obama's healthcare is gonna hire 15,000 more IRS agents. Unless that garbage is repealed and that idiot voted out in 2012! Otherwise, here is to your health! Enjoy dealing with the IRS, the agency with a heart! (chuckle). Heh, heh, heh, heh, heh...

    July 12, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
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