Report: Yanks fan may face big tax bill

BY foxsports • July 11, 2011

The man who gave Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit ball back to the future Hall of Famer and received a treasure trove of gifts in return may be getting another unexpected gift — a five-figure tax bill.

The New York Times reported Monday that Christian Lopez, the fan that caught and returned Jeter’s home run ball on Saturday, could be facing a tax bill for all that he received in return for his good deed — potentially to the tune of about $14,000, according to one accountant.

The 23-year-old Lopez, who caught the ball while seated in the left-field stands, received from the Yankees four luxury suite tickets for each of the team’s remaining home games, including the postseason, as well as three bats, three balls and two jerseys all signed by Jeter. In addition, he received front-row seats for Sunday’s game, which the Times reported sell for up to $1,358.90 each.

When valuing all of the goods, Lopez – who told the Times that he owes more than $100,000 in student loans – could be in line for a heavy bill from the IRS. The Times cited Steven Bandini, a tax partner at the accounting firm Zapken & Loeb, who said that a modest valuation of $50,000 for all of the items would likely mean a roughly $14,000 tax liability.

What remains unclear, according to the report, is whether the items would be considered a gift, rendering them not taxable.

The Times reported that an IRS spokesperson would not speculate on Lopez’s tax liabilities, and it quoted Yankees spokesperson Alice McGillion as saying, “Yankee partners and partnership always comply with the tax laws,” while declining to state whether the team would give Lopez any money to assist with any tax liability.