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Yankees fan's possible $14,000 tax bill

I was going to hold onto this item for Follow-up Friday, but discussion of a potential $14,000 tax bill for the Yankees fan who caught Derek Jeter's historic baseball hit is too big to delay.

The New York Times has answered the questions I raised Sunday in my post about the tax consequences Christian Lopez could face for snagging of Jeter's 3,000th hit:

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 Times spoke with TaxProf blogger Paul Caron (who gave my initial blog post good exposure; thanks!), who says the goodies Lopez got from the Yankees are analogous to the cars that Oprah audience members unexpectedly received from the talk show host. They had to pay taxes, about $7,000 apiece, on the vehicles.

Michael J. Graetz, however, took the gift position that I raised in my Sunday post.

The Columbia University law professor advised the IRS on how to treat the record-setting* home run by Mark McGwire that pushed the former St. Louis Cardinals slugger past Roger Maris' single season HR mark. Graetz thinks there's a decent argument that the Yankees items Lopez was given could be construed as gifts and therefore not taxable.

Lopez seems to be taking the possible costly tax news in stride.

"Worse comes to worse, I'll have to pay the taxes," Lopez told the New York 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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This is a very good point, and very sharp of you to pick up on the tax consequences of Mr. Lopez's fortune!

This reminds me of the Houston Astro's fan who was sent nearly a $237 tax bill ( http://www.treesfullofmoney.com/?p=1929 )for free donuts! Fortunately, in that case the donut company (Shipley's) footed the bill!

Hopefully the Yankees, or Jeter, will step up in this place too!

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