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. Big Game James

    @Jim Bob does this mean you'll let your sister get some sleep tonight?

    July 12, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Big Game James

    @Jim Bob if they were gifts from the taxpayers then NO he would not have to pay taxes. I hate idiots. But I despise a stupid one.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sally

      Common sense is hard to come by these days!

      July 13, 2011 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
  3. KBF

    taxable income? why not argue he took a loss. The ball was arguably worth twice the amount he received in exchange.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rog

      Wow! Only in the USA you guys pay more taxes than in any other western nation! You are more controlled you have to have a license for everything even cutting hair! LOL.you have Stasi style gestapo cops! And anything you win or are gifted you have to pay taxes on????!! You are also the only western nation who has to pay tax on your world wide income! only other country that forces this tax is North Korea and China! LOLThis is from the country who sought independence because 3% of the greedy rich folk who had slaves did not want to pay a small mount of tax only 1/8th of what the British had to pay for protecting the 13 colonies by its own blood brothers, from the scheming French and Spanish!!!! Who off course allied to the traitors! Is this pay back or Karma?

      July 13, 2011 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Rebecca

      Funny how you left out the country you live in or are originally from. I'd take the U.S.A. over bankrupt Greece, confused Canada or monarchy GB any day! We're not perfect but we have more rights than any other country. The biggest : the right to assemble/protest without getting shot at! Really you want to compare us to Spain and France? That's a joke, right?

      July 13, 2011 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Huh?

      So, you want him to claim the ball as income, then claim it as a deduction, then claim the other gifts? Why complicate the situation? The IRS is going to come after him no matter what.

      July 13, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • OzGirl

      @Rebecca – Rog is right, actually. I'm an American expat living in Australia, and you get to see VERY quickly how *few* rights you have as an American citizen. In fact, many expats are relinquishing their US citizenship in exchange for one in other countries. I pay about the same amount of taxes here in Australia, but I get many more benefits (paid time off, paid health care if I become a citizen, etc.). And you can't argue the US has a better economy or whatever else, because Oz's economy is BOOMING! Also, yes you are double-taxed as an American citizen. The only countries in the world who do it are the US & Syria (!!!). Plus, it is extremely complicated, very costly and wastes so much of my time that I understand why people are forgoing their citizenship. Also, note that many countries around the world have the right to protest without getting shot at... And cause a big enough stir in the US & see how quickly your rights diminish!

      July 17, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rogiswrong

      Rog, your figures are fiction. Having lived in Europe I know better. You might want to check your facts. Start here for a comparison:
      http://www.worldwide-tax.com/#partthree

      July 22, 2011 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  4. Maekchu

    Any fool can see it's not "Income". If the IRS goes after him over this then we seriously need to look at IRS reform; which we should be doing anyway. American taxpayers are way over-taxed by the current corrupt system.

    July 13, 2011 at 3:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Big G

      The IRS will follow the code and he can appeal if he doesn't like it. It would be best for him to have a tax attorney look into it before accepting the seats. He can refuse them. Also, if someone pays his tax bill, that may be taxable as well. The tax code, while complicated, is fairly clear on the matter. Ask anyone who has accepted a windfall.

      July 13, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. zx227

    He and Jeter exchanged gifts, he gave Jeter the ball (which was worth $250K) and Jeter gave him the signed memorabilia. He shouldn't have to pay one red cent.

    July 13, 2011 at 5:29 am | Report abuse |
  6. JehseaLynn

    RUN FOR THE HILLS When President George W. Bush took office in 2000, he inherited, from President Bill Clinton (a Democrat) the LARGEST BUDGET SURPLUS IN USA HISTORY. During President George W. Bush's 8 years in office, he started two wars, one in Afghanistan and then one in Iraq. Many people felt less supportive of the Iraq war, just as a side note. These wars are extremely expensive. As a result, President Bush turned Clinton's largest SURPLUS IN HISTORY INTO THE LARHEST BUDGET DEFICIT IN USA HISTORY.

    THAT IS A FACT.

    THAT HAPPENED BEFORE PTESIDENT OBAMA WAS ELECTED.

    To blame the state of the budhet woes on President Obama is untruthful, unfair, and, in my opinion, is racist, as pervasive as it is. The man brought us back from the brink of economic disaster, saving tje FINANCIAL SECTOR, SAVING THE AUTO INDUSTRY, SAVING THE HOUSING MARKEY, PULLING THE INFRASTRUCTURE of our country out of the FIRE! And e
    peeople then BLAME him for what BUSH did! It is racism.

    h
    e II ra.
    q war, just as a side note.
    These wars cost

    July 13, 2011 at 7:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Sally

      I bet you still blame Reagan

      July 13, 2011 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Namnar

      Keep sucking on that fantasy teet... First, learn to understand the difference between a budget surplus/deficit and debt... The surplus deficit means that the country spent less that the planned spending, year on year or they took in more anticipated revenue (tax). We still had debt, out of the wazoo... The primary reason for the surplus is because Clinton had to curtail spending due to budget compromises with the republican controlled house & senate around the time of his 2nd inauguration... Had he been left to his own devices, I assure you there would have been no surplus. Bush, on the other hand, had 911 1.5 years after inauguration, sending the economy plummeting, creating far less income that Clinton had in the boom tech stock years.... Read a real book, why dont you, not repeat what the Huffington post tells you to...

      July 13, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • noname

      i cant begin to explain how wrong you are. your comment was so ignorant its disgusting. at the risk of you going off on another mindless rant, i wont go into explaining why your wrong, instead ill just call you a moron and shake my head at how idiotic your comment was. Also im amazed at how you could try to make it seem like racism is an issue here, just shows you have no idea what your talking about.

      July 14, 2011 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
    • truth

      If you follow that mentality, it must be George Washington's fault.

      July 20, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. m

    he should not have to pay anything... this is ridiculous!!!!!!

    July 13, 2011 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Big G

      It's the law. He should be above it?

      July 13, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Eric

    The Yankees ought to pay that tax bill for him...

    July 13, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big G

      Good idea. Of course what they pay may be taxable income to him as well, but they have tax attorneys who can calculate what it would take to cover everything. On the other hand they could give him a season pass which would be less valuable or make him an honorary employee. There are many ways to avoid the taxes. Lets see what happens.

      July 13, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Big G

    Welcome to the world of the IRS. They follow the law, not write it, and in my experience are as fair as they can be, but if you try to game them... they have no sense of humor.

    July 13, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Namnar

    Rog... You need to get your distorted facts straight... The US pays the least in taxes of any mentionable western country... When you roll it all up, income tax, sales tax, medical/retirement taxes, Germany, France, & England are in the 56-59% ball park... Norway, the worst offender, pays 66%... A US resident pays in the 43% range... Gets some facts before you spout off...

    July 13, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sharp

    Naturally the greedy government won't consider it as a gift. They will start taxing the air when they find a technology to do it.

    July 15, 2011 at 2:11 am | Report abuse |
    • ted

      sharp, you KNOW they already devised a bogus scheme to tax your air right!?!? Its called the (mother of all lies) CARBON TAX. The insane concept was conjured up by none other than a Rothschild in 1987. Taxation of breathing is right around the corner. Of course sensible folks who argue for 97 pages over the taxability of a caught baseball think my statements are preposterous. Its not on huffpost of foxnews or even (GASP!) CNN, so it CANT be true....................

      July 16, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  12. krow101

    Good. This idiot deserves to be punished. He should have thought of his family and kept the ball. Instead he made a multi-millionaire a little more happy than he is already. Pay the taxes chump.

    July 15, 2011 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jennifer

    Jeter should throw the guy a couple million bucks, he can afford it..... Its the least he could do....

    July 15, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. LWZRGHT

    The ball was a gift to the Yankees and Jeter, a totally selfless act on the part of a devoted fan. The seats were a gift from the Yankees, to show appreciation for that fan. If the govt is going to tax gift exchanges, Christmas is going to get a lot more complicated.

    July 19, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. swerk

    Maybe if this guy stopped with the whole "gosh, golly, I just want to be a good guy to everyone" deal, he wouldn't find himself with so many problems.

    July 20, 2011 at 4:43 am | Report abuse |
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