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. Mike

    No taxation without representation. The crooked politicians are not representative of the American people so therefore we should not be required to pay any taxes whatsoever!

    July 12, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Wow...Ok, consider for a moment that with no taxes, there would be no government, which means no police, no firefighters, no public education, assistance for those in need coming from only charitable organizations, no libraries, no parks, no military, no courts, no way to enforce laws, nothing. Plus, considering how many people the government employs and how few jobs are out there in the corporate world right now, our economy would sink into a hole that it would take decades to recover from, even if society by some miracle didn't go in the toilet. Better an imperfect government than anarchy.

      July 12, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      We could have police, fire etc. if we didnt have foodstamps, medicare, medicaid etc. Imagine a country where people kept their wages, and gave charity to help others more often. Would be better than electing politicians to do so. Then our government would be limited on what they spend and people wouldnt be so dependent on them.

      July 12, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • sylvia saenz


      July 12, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • shaqfan

      Just because the one you voted for didn't win doesn't mean that the election was a farce. I'm sorry things don't go your way, maybe you should ask god what to do again.

      July 12, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Veritas

      The last time I check we elected Congress who passed tax laws. The last time I checked we elected a President who signed the tax laws. If you don't like the law then go through the process to change it, but don't pretend that it is an illegitimate law just because you don't like it. The FACT of the matter is your representatives and Senators in Congress DO represent you. If you don't like the WAY they represent you, then you have an opportunity to change that every two years (House) four years (President) and six years (Senate).

      July 12, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      Dan, call me cynical, but I don't think charity would increase that much if taxes were lower. We are all motivated, primarily, by self interest. Currently that generally translates to buying as much stuff as possible. It's a nice thought, but I don't see it happening.

      July 12, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • MJ

      @John. Those services (fire, police, emergency, roads, etc) are provided by cities, counties and States, to which property and sales tax pays for. Income tax is repugnant, and since D.C. is not representing our interests, we're under no moral obligation to pay IRS any money.

      July 12, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Jake I have to agree with you. Lower taxes haven't made the American people anything but used to lower taxes. Their spending has grown accordingly. Now that we've piled on a ton of debt people are complaining about the thought of higher taxes even though taxes sit at 50 year lows.

      July 12, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      @MJ, he said no taxes whatsoever, not just none to the IRS. Even if he had said the IRS, it doesn't make it a sensible argument. We elect the politicians. If we voted for someone else, then someone else would be in office. The fact that someone doesn't agree with a policy enacted doesn't give them the right to evade taxes.

      July 12, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Craig Thelonius

    It does not pay to EVER be honest with the government. I hope this man pays his tax bill, and then screws the Fed later on the back end.

    July 12, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • JJ

      Yeah, brilliant insight there Craig.

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

    JUST another terrorist tactic tby a terrorist group to keep the sheeple afraid – veerrry afraid – " Step outta line , the man come and take you away". WE are many THEY are few.

    July 12, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • sylvia saenz

      Yes, but the young man it appears did not solicit it. He did not ask for anything nor did he solicit the parephernalia he got.

      July 12, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ken

    I'm not saying it's right, but tax code doesn't care if it was a contest or sale. He got something of value, it becomes taxable.

    July 12, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Not technically true. The Yankees were under no obligation to give him anything and, under that argument, it could be counted as a gift. It could be argued that he won no prize, since there was no drawing or contest. That gift would then likely be taxable for the Yankees, but that's another matter.

      July 12, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. alricsca

    If they were no obligated to do this, then it is a gift.

    July 12, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Rick Springfield

    They should have hired him. Then give him the seats as part of the job requirements. The promotional items as part of the required samples he would need to carry. Then they could let him go. He would even be able to get unemployment. That would have been the best thing to do.

    July 12, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • sylvia saenz

      Man, you are one ignorant cheater. What you are suggesting is fraudulent and criminal, carries a 50 % civil penalty, plus the taxes plus the interest, plus the attorney's fees. I believe that technically he does not have to pay taxes.

      July 12, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • DJ

      Rick if that is your name. As an employee he would be responsible for paying tax on his wages, tips and bonuses. That makes this a moot mode of operand i. Good try though.

      July 12, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. sylvia saenz


    July 12, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ned

    i have no doubt the yankees will pay any taxes he owes, somehow they will. this is a non-story.

    July 12, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Anthony Weiner

    Does this count as a job created by the Obama administration?

    July 12, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. rgncgn

    Mr. Lopez is a class act. The yankees made a gift to him. . . no way can it be construed as a "prize" subject to taxes. It was one fine act of giving a gift (the ball back) followed by another fine act of giving the gift that the Yankees were in a position to do for one of their classiest fans

    July 12, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aloisae

      The point missed in the CNN article, however, is that gifts of this magnitude are also subject to federal tax in the US. However, gifts are taxable to the giver, not the recipient. This should mean that the Yankees are sent the tax bill... unless, as you posit rgncgn, the ball is deemed to be a gift with value to the Yankees in which case it could either be seen as an equal exchange of goods (which would be a taxable event) or Mr. Lopez would be liable for the tax on the value of the ball given to the Yankees and the Yankees for the value of the goods/services given to Mr. Lopez. Definitely a better case scenario for those involved to just go with taxing the goods/services which are easily valued (ie. the box seats and merchandise) and not try to value the gift of the ball.

      July 12, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. CPW

    America America the fun Natzis of the world.

    July 12, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. chris

    I never knew of a ball club to hold a contest in returning a ball to a player, especially one that is of significance as this. As there is no contest then there is no prize ergo this was a gift not a prize.

    July 12, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. NamCbtVet

    Hope he is a Tea Party activist.

    July 12, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. bill jones

    What happens when he sells them or auctions them off in 20 years he pays again. I mean somone signs a bat and how can game tickets be taxed? Someone signs some things and the government decides what they are worth. This makes no sense. The Lopez guy was stupid, but he might have gotten about the same in value as the ball was worth. I would have told Jeter give me your uniform.

    July 12, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. pammie-o

    That's what you get for being a fan instead of a man.
    Pro Sports Is Fixed,it's bread and games for the estrogen dominant males (see the Disappearing Male http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3450754654538943# )
    Fixed ball games,and racy car are the only acceptable toys the corporations allow in the feminized male sandbox.Anything other than that acting like a male will get you court ordered "sensitivity training".
    Some sap sacrificed his life to catch his pro ball player's boyfriends fly ball last week didn't he? I wish men would act like men instead of women in the bleachers.When your team wins...do you even get a shiny penny for your loyalty? NO

    July 12, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
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