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Guy who returned Jeter’s 3,000th hit ball may owe $14,000 in taxes

Jul 12, 2011, 2:09 PM EDT

christianlopez

Remember when Oprah gave a car to every member of her audience? She should have said: “YOU owe $7,000 in taxes and YOU owe $7,000 in taxes and YOU owe …”

Christian Lopez may soon be crossing that bridge. He’s the Yankees fan who grabbed Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit — the home run ball that put Jeter in the exclusive hit club and made Lopez famous. But instead of holding onto the memento to try and cash in on it, Lopez may owe a stack of cash to the IRS, according to the New York Times. Lopez returned the ball to Jeter, igniting a controversy over whether he’s a dope or just a plain good guy. In return for his generosity, the Yankees showered Lopez with signed Yankees’ stuff, among the swag some bats, balls, jerseys and free tickets.

In such gratitude begins tax liability, said Paul Caron, a tax professor at the University of Cincinnati law school and author of Tax Prof Blog.

“Pretty clearly he’s going to have to report as income the value of all the stuff he got for the ball,” Professor Caron said.

So break out your pencils.

On SportsMemorabilia.com, an auction site, baseballs signed by Jeter were being sold for up to $600, jerseys for close to $1,000 and bats for $900.

The tickets to the 32 remaining home games (after Sunday) have a combined face value of $44,800 to $73,600, according to the team’s Web site. The tickets could be worth a lot more if the Yankees play deep into October. Steven Bandini, a tax partner at the accounting firm Zapken & Loeb, said that if the items were valued modestly at $50,000, they would probably carry a tax burden of about $14,000.

The Yankees would not comment on whether they would help Lopez with any tax payments. The 23-year-old has said he already owes more than $100,000 in student loans.

What’s paramount here though is that Lopez believes he did the right thing. And that’s what counts. But then I’ve never been known for my brilliant tax advice.

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Christian Lopez, Fan Who Caught Jeter’s 3,000th Hit Ball, Could Owe $14,000 In Taxes [Huffington Post]
Returning Jeter’s big hit: no good deed goes untaxed (perhaps) [New York Times]

  1. florida727 - Jul 12, 2011 at 5:37 PM

    Hmmm. The government trying to get its cut of something they haven’t earned. There’s a shocker.