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Yankees fan gets tax bill (and more) help

When last we left Christian Lopez, he was basking in the glow of being a good sport and facing an unexpected tax bill.

Follow-up friday icon Lopez, as you might recall, ended up with the home run ball that marked the 3,000th major league baseball hit by Derek Jeter.

Rather than hold onto the horsehide orb and sell it for a possible small fortune, Lopez gave the ball back to the Yankees captain.

In return, Lopez got lots of valuable goodies -- and a potential five-figure tax bill -- from the baseball team.

But Lopez's goodwill has been contagious. Since the momentous MLB and tax event on July 9, he's been offered, according to a tally by New York magazine, loot worth a grand total of between $161,750 and $177,050. The variation in value depends on the eventual location of the seats in  Yankees Stadium he received.

Among the goodies (so far) for Lopez:

  • The aforementioned Yankees tickets, which include four front-row Legends Suite tickets to last Sunday's game and four Champions Suite tickets for the remainder of the season, including playoffs, 
  • A variety of Jeter-signed sports memorabilia,
  • Five percent of the sales price of Yankees merchandise sold by Modell's through next Tuesday, 
  • The 2009 World Series ring owned by Mitchell Modell,
  • A flat-out $25,000 gift from Brandon Steiner of Steiner Sports, and
  • A Christian Lopez baseball card produced by Topps, expected to appear in card sets later this year.

Holy Moley!

Now about the taxes: Even us confirmed Yankees haters have to be happy for this guy. But won't many of these additional rewards and awards also pose more tax concerns for Lopez?

Well, Miller High Life has offered to pay Lopez's tax bill.

Again, wouldn't that money just increase Lopez's ultimate debt to the IRS?

Yes, but tax folks say that can be resolved as long as the beer company gives Lopez a grossed-up amount that would be sufficient to pay taxes not only on the value of the other taxable items he received, but also on the Miller money itself.

Essentially, Lopez would get enough money to pay all the taxes on all the goodies, including the taxes on the Miller payment to cover the taxes (yes, it's like looking at a picture of yourself looking in a mirror at a picture of yourself), so that Lopez wouldn't have to come up with any money out of his own pocket to pay the IRS.

So the fairy tale continues, for Lopez and Uncle Sam.

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Interesting question, Joe. In Jeter's case I'm sure he has an accountant who's been busily calculating all the tax implications of the 3000th hit. I suspect Jeter will give the ball to the MLB Hall of Fame. But then, if your premise holds, it would still be a taxable item and he would only get a deduction against that amount. Alternately, could the argument be made that the ball, which was supplied by the Yankees, went to Jeter as a representative of the team, so it's still the club's, not the player's, possession? I'd love to see one of these cases go to Tax Court and see what the judge(s) would rule.


What about Derek Jeter? Someone gave him an item that would be worth quite a bit of money. Doesn't he have a tax bill as well? Or has he given the ball to a museum?

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