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Your take: Should Yankees fan be taxed?

Christian Lopez may face a big tax bill on the largesse he received after returning Derek Jeter's baseball.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 19, 2011 9:14AM
This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering.

One of the big stories in Major League Baseball this year was Derek Jeter getting his 3,000th hit. After a lot of anticipation, a trip to the 15-day disabled list for his calf, and a monstrous 5-for-5 day, the milestone was his when the Yankees shortstop blasted his first home run in Yankee Stadium this year, on July 9.


What makes it more amazing is that the person who caught it, Christian Lopez, gave it back. For his kindness, and passing up probably $250,000 according to some estimates, he gets four seats to every game for the rest of the season, signed merchandise, and the opportunity to meet Jeter. A quarter of a million dollars is a lot of money, but remember, these are die-hard fans and he wins the adoration of a lot of people too.


Unfortunately, if the seats and the memorabilia aren't considered gifts, he'll have to pay about $14,000 in taxes on it. To his credit, Lopez has said he'll pay whatever he's supposed to pay. Post continues after video.

I personally think that he should have to pay taxes on it. That's just how the system works. However, I also thought that MLB or the Yankees should give him enough cash to cover it. (Since then, a bunch of folks have seized the opportunity to help pay the taxes, his student loans, etc.) (Do you have too much debt? Try MSN Money's calculator.)


It's a lot like when Oprah Winfrey gave away all those cars. She gave away 276 Pontiac G6 cars to her audience and anyone who got one owed $7,000 in taxes on the sticker price of $28,500. In that case, Oprah and Pontiac didn't pay the taxes (paying out an additional $1.93 million to cover taxes does seem a little too generous) but Oprah did learn her lesson and in her all-expenses-paid Australian trip giveaway, she did pay for the taxes.


What do you think?


More on Bargaineering and MSN Money:

Jul 19, 2011 10:17AM

"I personally think that he should have to pay taxes on it. That's just how the system works. However, I also thought that MLB or the Yankees should give him enough cash to cover it."


But then wouldn't that cahs also be considered a "gift" and he would have to pay taxes on that as well?  Then what?  They should give him more to cover the taxes on that second "gift" as well?  Doesn't this become an upwards spiral?


I personally think it is stupid to tax a man on the value of a ball not sold but simply bartered for other products.  The ball is worth a couple dollars.  Period.  People only assume that it is worth much more but unless it is sold no one knows.  The Yankees gave him some several nice things for that couple dollar baseball.  If you go by simple logic then those items, if considered equal value, cannot be considered worth more than the ball.  Again, a couple dollars.


This is just government trying to find another money hole to dip in to in order to cover the fact that it doesn't know what the heck it is doing with the trillions of dollars it already recieves and squanders those dollars on a daily basis.

Jul 19, 2011 1:48PM
so if I found a rare coin while digging to plant a bush. I take the coin and sell it for 20K I have to pay tax on the 20K?  come on people we get taxed too much already let the guy go.  I mean whats next  we get taxed on christmas presents? (im sorry am I still allowed to say christmas?)
Jul 19, 2011 1:46PM
How is it possible that these would not be considered gifts? Did he not voluntarily give the ball to Jeter, without asking for any sort of compensation in return?  Was it not only after the fact that the Yankees decided to return the generosity by giving him the tickets and merchandise? 
Jul 19, 2011 1:42PM

I would interpret the items he received as a gift from the team.  A big, generous thank you. He didn't ask for anything. He didn't hold the ball hostage to get something for it.  He received those items after he turned the ball over. 



Jul 19, 2011 2:40PM

So if the IRS concludes the baseball is worth a million dollars he should get a million dollar deduction for giving it to Jeter and Jeter should have to pay income tax on it ! Man.....the IRS is  a bunch of bloodsuckers !

Jul 19, 2011 3:28PM

First off, I think that if one catches a ball the ball should not be taxed and the basis of the ball should be zero dollars.


If the guy later sells the ball, then all of the proceeds would be capital gains and taxed as such.


As far as this situation goes, he disclaimed the ball, so the ball is a red herring. The stuff he got a gifts and the team should pay a gift tax on that stuff. He should pay nothing.

Jul 19, 2011 1:08PM
Lesson to all: Refuse the gifts and next time KEEP THE BALL
Jul 19, 2011 3:24PM

This is an example of how doing something good or as some call the right thing the person doing the good act is punished. After all of this who will do the right thing? The stinking ball is only worth about 5.00. The ball is worthless until it is sold! This is why the goverment is such trouble - they have no clue how things really work!


He should have sold the ball to Jeter for $250,000 pay the taxes and then buy 4 season tickets and all memorablia he wants and still have some cash left. Jeter has enough money to pay half million for the stinking ball.




Jul 19, 2011 2:29PM
i was given some very nice "gifts" for christmas last year. i guess i have to pay taxes on them too. but then again i wasn't given a "gift" that could have been worth $250,000.00. i don't know who would have paid for the ball that he caught, but whoever would have paid for the ball should also pay for the taxes that he is accruing.
Jul 19, 2011 4:00PM
I like Alvin's point. 

What if, as a Yankees fan, he just wanted to keep the ball as a most prized memento?  He never plans to sell it, he just wants his grandkids to see it on the mantle for years to come?  Why should he have to pay taxes on the estimated price he could sell it for if he did sell it?  Its not actually worth anything if he does not sell it.  In that case the person should be taxed if/when they sell it.

Jul 19, 2011 3:43PM
Absolutely Not !!!! This guy is straight up and deserves the gifts tax free. The Yankees did not have to give him what they did so in my mind they are gifts for being a stand up guy.
Jul 19, 2011 3:50PM

Since he gave the ball back..he has the write off...2 can play that game!

The tax on the "gifts" should be paid by the Yankees.

End of story!

Jul 19, 2011 2:28PM
The fan should get the ball back from DJ. It will be worth a million Dollars soon enough. Why should DJ have i? He hit it out of the stadium!
Jul 19, 2011 4:27PM
Not sure where everyone is getting that he would be taxed on the ball. The taxes were on the seats/memorabilia they gave him after he returned the ball. The money he made selling the ball would have been taxed. If they offered him the items in exchange for the ball it would be taxed, but if it was a "thank you" gift for returning the ball it's not taxable. Gifts aren't taxable up to a certain amount. That's why if you win the lottery, gift as much as you can to your spouse/children to cut down the taxes. If uncle sam starts taxing gifts, Christmas will suck.
Jul 19, 2011 3:44PM
 If you win lottery you pay taxes. if you hit oil in back yard you pay taxes. if you find sunken ship you pay taxes. If you don't want to pay taxes on ball at base ball game , don't pick it up. Giving ti to jeter does not work  Jeter is not tax free  org. not a charity.  give $250,000 to a relative and both pay taxes.
Jul 19, 2011 4:25PM
before they tax him you have to ask, is everyone who catche a ball taxed on the value they have received?
Jul 19, 2011 3:19PM
No he should not pay taxes. AND, all baseball fans should boycott all major league games, as they are corrupt, greedy, and have totally spoiled and ruined the game for kids.
Jul 19, 2011 12:56PM

JJ - as I understand it, the tax he has to pay isn't on the ball he gave away, but on all the stuff he got in exchange.  And yes, they could give him the money to pay taxes on that, and increase it enough so that he can pay the taxes on the money they gave him as well. 

I'm with the author, I think he should have to pay, but I think the Yankees should pony up the dough for the taxes and what he'd have to pay in taxes for the cash he'd receive.

Jul 19, 2011 2:41PM
I don't know why this guy would be held to a different standard as anyone else.  Lopez catches a $250k baseball.  He should be taxed on the income of the $250k.  I'm not sure if it's taxed at the short term capital gains rate or just straight income.  Since this took place in New York, the Federal + State + Local tax equals approx 50% so about $125k.

Then the ball is given as a gift to Jeter.  A gift tax at 35% of the $250k should then be paid, probably by Jeter.  

Then Lopez receives approx $75k in gifts from the Yankees which is approx $14k in tax.  

Lopez owes about $139k in taxes and if he doesn't start paying, interest and penalties should accrue.  Pay up or go to jail.  Can you get the YES network in federal prison?
Jul 19, 2011 12:49PM
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