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. Vicki

    I agree with you! He did a decent thing giving the ball back and the IRS is going afte him? Don't they have REAL problems to look in to?

    July 12, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bert

      Oy! Don't tax the rich, but nail the guy who caught a historical ball and gave it back to the ball club. Are people typically taxed on rewards from Crime Stoppers and such?

      July 12, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeremy

      The IRS has a job to do just like everyone else. The world would be such a better place if all the opinionated people in it understood basic finance.

      All the Yankees have to do is give him an additional cash payment to cover the tax. If they give him an additional $20k it will be enough to cover the $12k he owes plus any additional tax on the cash payment. And that's likely what they Yankees will do.

      July 12, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bmakattak

    Jeter or Yankees should flip the bill for the taxes if it comes to that.

    July 12, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vicki

      agree...lets' leave it alone!

      July 12, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rico DeBene

      Then they will go after him to pay the taxes for that too!!

      July 12, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Rico DeBene

    Only in this country can a corporation make over a billion in profit and not pay taxes, but the government goes after a schmuck that makes less than 30 k a year (gross) cause he forgot to pay a minor tax. wow

    July 12, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. fopipjjlle

    I still can't believe that guy gave the ball back. As far as I am concerned he should pay taxes for being stupid enough to give the ball to a guy who lives in a 40,000 square foot house. Yeah, he will out the ball in a special diplay case in it's own room I'm sure. This guy could have paid his student loans off and still bought himself a house straight up even after taxes! But it "is the honorable thing to give the ball back", give me a freaking break! Jeter gets the milestone, the accomplishment, prestige, eventually in the hall, what does he need the ball for? If it were me I would already be plotting my financial future. This guy will wake up one day with HUGE regret.

    July 12, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • LOL@PeopleThinkTheyKnowEverything

      Good thing it wasn't a selfish idiot such as yourself, then....

      July 12, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • growupandthink

      It's called honor....something you obviously know nothing about.

      July 12, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Edofin

    "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."

    ..Wow.. "Thank you MASTER, may I have another?"

    Something that comes to mind.. Mafia's just doing their job, so this kid would be fine with them squeezing him too. And talk about naive, IRS + "Help" = ???

    July 12, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Vicki

    get me off this website

    July 12, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Miguel Juarez

    New York needs this tax money so they can support all the ILLEGALS

    July 12, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bart

    Jeter could give him an individual gift tax free up to 20k per year. As much money as Jeter makes he should send the dude a one time gift to cover the taxes. There should be more people on the planet with this fans character.

    July 12, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Brian

    The IRS isn't going after him... That's a bunch of BS and Hype.. They may? They can ...so what None of this has happened yet if it ever does ? Does Jetter have to pay on the ball? Find something a bit more News worthy. ..On a more interesting note.... My Dog Kimi turns 6 today..

    July 12, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Noxx

    What a nice guy and to get screwed like this. And he's STILL nice about it!!! Admirable! I think he'll be ok, but my goodness.

    July 12, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jim

    I cannot believe he gave the ball back. Jeter and the Yankees could be cool and pay the $14,000 for the kid. That's what, five minutes of work for Jeter?

    July 12, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Brad

    Maybe Jeter could pony up the $14,000 and give this guy a 'gift' to cover the taxes?

    July 12, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. derek

    I hope they tax this guy and if he can;t pay the money, put his butt in jail for being stupid. I would of asked Jeter for money. This guy thinks it was honable but in the real world he is just a idiot. This isn't the movies where the we have a fairy tail ending. Take the money you idiot.

    IRS, throw the book at this guy. Put him in jail with the child molesters. He'll get what's coming to him for being stupid and not taking the money.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jim Bob

    Does this mean obozo will have to pay taxes on he and his families' jaunts around the world? After all, they were a gift from the taxpayers.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. april

    What? Pay taxes on a gift? I think we r taxed 2 death...u buy a car-u pay big taxes just 2 drive it home...then yr after yr u pay again & again...now pay taxes on a gift...hello?? Next we will b paying taxes to breath air...

    July 12, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
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