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. Chris

    Besides the "gift Tax" is usually paid by the donor not by the person who receives the gift. Bad research.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Welcome to Reality

      Yeah but this is CNN. Just about every article has some glaring error just like this. You can make a drinking game out of it and whoever finds the obvious error first, makes the others drink. It's actually a lot of fun, and easy.

      July 12, 2011 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  2. USAR soldier

    if i would hae caught that ball idk if could even be as generous as this guy was not even close. poor guy

    July 12, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  3. rob

    if yanks dont fix this, the kid should say the ball is worth a million and should make yanks pay the tax on that.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  4. Smokingman

    Nothing from the IRS on this, just some New York accountants making up news for the Daily Times......

    July 12, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  5. ShareItFitness

    If it comes to it, the yankees or jeter will pick up this tax bill...

    July 12, 2011 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  6. Dr. Bombay

    Government Greed is Out of Control !!

    Amerikkka deserves the Government it Tolerates.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  7. J WARD

    shame on the irs guy does right thing u want to penalize him

    July 12, 2011 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  8. Sarah

    I agree that this is an exchange, a potentially non-taxable event. In addition, the fair market value of this ball may be well in excess of what Mr. Lopez was given in exchange. If the ball is worth more than the value of the seats (not an unreasonable assumption in this case), then Lopez has actually taken a loss. He had the chance to sell that ball on the open market, but chose to "sell" it to the Yankees and Derek Jeter instead. Maybe the IRS should let him realize an $800,000 loss on this million dollar ball!

    July 12, 2011 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Derek

      Excellent point Sarah. The ball was roughly valued at $250k, and he "only" got $120k in tickets and merchandise. Can he claim a loss of $130k on his taxes??

      July 12, 2011 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  9. BrotherJohn

    That's crazy.First of all, the iRS wants to tax the heck out of everything under the sun, yet Congress gives money away to foreign countries and their own personal cronies. Second, the Yankess did not give the guy all these things as payment for the ball. It was a generous gift. I'm no Yankee fan (Texas Ranger fan here), but the Yanks did a good thing. Stay out of the way, IRS

    July 12, 2011 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  10. IconXs

    If I’d of caught the ball I would have given it to Shannon Stone’s boy. “Here is Jeter’s 3000th hit. When the day comes in life, you’ll figure out what you want to do with it.”

    July 12, 2011 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  11. PlayfulDreamer

    Yes! We want more taxes!

    July 12, 2011 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jose

    The biggest in this world... why would u let a quarter of a million dollars go to waste. why would give it to him? you could of profited in the long run and actually got the million for it in ten years. and then the government is so screwed up...

    July 12, 2011 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  13. Seamaster

    Article is absolutely correct ! I feel sorry for the man. Yankees should gross up the gift and make good on the tax liability.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  14. Derek

    OMG, this is what's wrong with our country. Our government wants a piece of everything!! The guy did something nice and now he's going to have to pay $14,000 in taxes?! Also, of course it was a gift. How could it be a prize? He didn't win a contest, and he wasn't gambling.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  15. Johnny

    This is purely conjecture at this point and made up probably made up by the news media for the sole purpose to generate interest in reading the article. This was a gift and gifts are not taxable. has anyone heard form the IRS on this matter?

    July 12, 2011 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
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