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. erich2112x

    Now we'll see fans scattering for cover when a home run ball comes their way rather than catching it.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
  2. MIKE

    THE IRS ARE THE BIGGEST THIEFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! F THE IRS.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  3. howard philipson

    Now that I have really given the matter some additional thought, if the IRS actually wanted
    to treat the exchange of the ball for the freebies, then mr Lopez should declare a major
    TAX LOSS, as the ball was worth far more than the 'gifts' he received in exchange. So,
    in my opinion, the NYTimes article is completely erroneous.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Twinsfan

      Amen brother, I like it. Donation of $300,000, received $120,000 in compensation. I think the IRS owes him a lot of money! I love this guy!

      July 12, 2011 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
  4. boston fan

    Man this sucks for this fan. I hate the Yankees, why don't they just give him a $14,000 dollar gift during tax season? I know they bring in atleast that kind of money.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Johnny Stockholm

      Haha, then he'd have to pay taxes on the 14,000....

      July 12, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      It would have to be more than 14,000 to cover that 14,000. But, maybe they will.

      July 12, 2011 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Don_J

      Gifts AND bonuses are taxable.

      July 12, 2011 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  5. Brett

    AC – That is the view the IRS would probably take, that it's a business transaction. The problem is that in that view he received $120,000 in "income" when he caught the ball. Just like if you enter a raffle and win a car, then "give" it to someone in exchange for the boat you really want. Even if the car and the boat are equal in value (a fair trade), you still have income since you didn't have either when you started. Just like he didn't have 120,000 when he started.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  6. Don_J

    I think this couldn't have happened at a better time... now "regular" people will see just how unfair this Tax system is that we have. Just for argument sake, say that Jeter had hit a dribbler down the line toward 3rd base... and the 3rd baseman over-threw to 1st into the crowd behind 1st base and someone more "prominent" would have grabbed that ball... would we be talking about this at all... no, not at all.

    The Yankees should not have made public what they gave the guy... or better still, they should buy the ball from him for $1 Million, then he'll have money to pay the taxes.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • JoshKSmith

      That would be an error Don, not a hit... the rich fella on the 1st base line just caught an ordinary ball...

      July 12, 2011 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  7. JJ

    Stupid article. Let the IRS try to tax him and watch the firestorm.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Don_J

      Please... you've never had to deal with the IRS have you? It's stupid, but it is the law and it should be changed...

      July 12, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  8. Various Authors

    Oh please, it's been a known fact since a few hours after that game that the kid gave Jeter the ball without asking for anything in return. Ergo, all that the Yankees gave him are gifts. End of discussion. As for you Yankee haters it's a known fact that the Yankees are an extremely charitable organization, and that the late George Steinbrenner was one of the most generous people on the planet, without letting the world know about it. The epitome of selfless giving.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  9. Canadian guy

    Money money money, a country where your brother will sue you if he can make some money. A place where loyalty has a recipt and is taxable too. Money is the root of all evil for many people.
    In Canada by the time we are done paying taxes, it's getting close to 50%. We pay Provincial Tax, Fedral Tax, GST, in most places PST or HST. We pay a fuel tax, a tire tax, a computer tax, and if we work over time we pay more tax. If you own a house you pay property taxes. I am very sure i have missed some taxes. But if we win the lotery we don't pay taxes on the winnings. Out of the taxes we pay, sometimes they fix the roads, we get to go to the hospital for free, but what takes your hosptals 1 or 2 days to find the answer it takes us a few years to get around to all of the tests. Our military gets second hand equipment sometimes to save some money. But i still love it.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  10. aj

    The guy does a good deed (although foolish) and now in order to get a story, we got a couple of accountants and a "i'm questioning your motives" journalist trying to turn it into something it's not...TAXABLE INCOME! What the Yankees gave him was a gift (and nothing more) for contributing the ball to Jeter and Yankee history. C-O-N-T-R-I-B-U-T-I-O-N MORONS! So it oughta be tax deductible since he DONATED the ball. And this is just another example of what's gone wrong in America.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  11. mike

    JMc wrong. You idea lack proportionality. Michelle Bachman was a tax attack lawyer.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • JMc

      I know of a few states that do not have an income tax but have a higher sales tax and it works just fine. If you don't pay into the system then you really don't care about how well the system works.

      July 12, 2011 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  12. Thomas Vincent

    ARE YOU SERIOUS!!! This hard working cell phone salesman does a stand up deed by giving the ball back to Jeters and our government would really consider taxing him!!!! How about lookin at that tax laws that let General Electric pay NO income tax last year...... the american people are gonna have to take our country back at some point!!!!!!

    July 12, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  13. USAR soldier

    Makes me wonder if they actually pay a guy to sit behind a desk and think "hey who should I F over today" did that guy just catch a ball time at a baseball game ON HIS FREE TIME WHAT?!?!? who does this guy think he is time to pay uncle sam.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  14. W. Stevens

    He should have kept it...sold it and pocketed the money. But, caught up in the moment, he never thought of that. Maybe the Yankees will come through with the tax payment too. They seem to have a few bucks in the bank.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
  15. wow

    this is quite possibly the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. the dude is 23, you actually think he has 14 K to just give?

    July 12, 2011 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • robocop

      I'm 23, I paid way more than 14k in taxes last year. I don't understand your argument...

      July 12, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
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