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. Klipsan

    Non-story created by two accountants that want to get famous (and did NOT catch the ball) and CNN. It will all work out the way it is suppose to.

    July 12, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      Yes it will work out with the government screwing its citizens!

      July 12, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Marty

    I don't think it can be taxed until he receives money for the items. Because the value of the items can not be reliably determined until sold then I doubt the IRS can claim it as income. Plus, despite popular opinion the IRS is actually pretty fair and I doubt they would pursue the matter until he recieves income from any sale.

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

      The value of a Suite cannot be determined? They sell them on the open market, and autographed baseballs, bats, pictures, etc also sell on the open market and can easily be determined. Since he now has these items in his possession, they are "earned" income. The items ARE the money he received. So on the surface it is pretty clear he received compensation for the baseball. I agree the IRS can also be human, and my guess is they will classify the items received as a gift and not tax him. It could go the other way easily, and they can easily determine the value of the items he received for the baseball to determine the amount of tax to levy.

      July 12, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff S

      I've been taxed for non-monetary items I received at work (i.e. a set of golf clubs, vacations, etc.) Its very common and easy to be taxed on such items of value.

      July 12, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jj

    He gave them the ball as a gift. He asked for nothing in return.

    They then gave him all that stuff without any obligation on his part. Therefore that too is a gift. There was no bartar, no exchange of currency or conditions. Further, there was no work, and therefore no earnings. Lastly, there was no investment.

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

      thank you...you just cleared up the whole thing for me...gift.

      July 12, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aloisae

      However, there are also federal taxes on gifts made in excess of the annual exemption amount.

      July 12, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • ck

      Too bad the courts don't agree with you. Why don't you let the tax attorneys and accountants handle this one. Your "opinion" about how the law should work is far from how the law actually works.

      July 12, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. wishing

    Actually, it will be taxable. However, so wouldn't the 'found' ball, if he had kept it. Depending upon its value, it may have been more taxable than what he did receive.

    July 12, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. grimreaper

    so sick of the irs how can we vote them out?

    July 12, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bryan Micon

      Ron Paul

      July 12, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      The IRS hasn't done a darned thing to the guy!!!

      July 12, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. tix

    go figure , ever wonder why the us economy is so ##@%%^ up

    July 12, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • CTYank

      Uh, that is NOT the reason. Guess you weren't paying attention to the bushies.

      July 12, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kuske

    He gives a guy who is worth over 100 million a $500k gift then ends up owing $14k in taxes? What an idiot.

    July 12, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • kz

      Clearly proof that no good deed goes unpunished.

      July 12, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. texas12

    It was a baseball with $10.00. Sounds like the yankees overpaid again.

    July 12, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. rangersfan

    Give it all back, why would you want their autographs anyway ?

    July 12, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Name*synodal

    What a double idiot! First trying to be nice cool pal givin back what he can sell for a lot on e bay and pay tax !! Now the best NYY can reward him is go to his house and give him a baseball, I mean how stupid he is going to feel next season when he pays to get in! Errrrrrrrrrogant stuuuuuupido

    July 12, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JG

    I don't see how there is even a question as to how this should be looked at, IT'S A GIFT! He was a nice guy knowing that the ball would be important to Jeter and so he gave it to him. Jeter being a nice guy gave him a thank you gift. In no way was he only giving up the ball in order to receive some payment for it in exchange and the Yankees were not bribing him. If they think this was a payoff, everything anyone ever gets autographed from now on will have to be immediately taxed as a monetary gain.

    July 12, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aloisae

      Gifts in excess of the federal exemption amount are also subject to federal taxes. However, it is the giver and not the recipient who pays the tax.

      July 12, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Exyi

      Only in the U.S no other country in the world does this .

      July 12, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jordygordy

    The only reason I could see them taxing this is if he went and sold all the stuff and collected the money, its not like he went out and paid 200gs for it all. But if he went and sold it all online, or in auction, and they made him pay taxes on what he made from that, I would find it acceptable

    July 12, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Exyi

      In some countries, certain types of gifts above a certain monetary amount are subject to taxation. For the United States . . . . Wikipedia

      July 12, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CNN_Dopes

    Leave him alone CNN, always some idiot wanting to stir the pot. CNN gives them a forum.

    July 12, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Exyi

    Leave it to the U.S to tax a gift . . . . so glad don't live there when we give gifts they are free and have no strings attached what's next the IRS will want to tax babies and children on birthdays and holidays when they get presents and gifts guess we know how the government officials receive there $500,000 quarterly pay checks put tax on gifts that people receive. . . . . From Wikipedia " In some countries, certain types of gifts above a certain monetary amount are subject to taxation. For the United States " , Wow Wikipedia says the only country in the world that does this is the U.S Another reason not to live or visit America.

    July 12, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. SB

    If he can prove a fair market value for the ball in excess of the $120K in "gifts" he received, then he sold the ball at a loss – go ahead, put it on your taxes and get a break for the loss!

    July 12, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
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