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Your Take: Taxing the Guy Who Caught Derek Jeter’s 3000th Hit

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3000th Hit JumbotronOne of the big stories in Major League Baseball this year was Derek Jeter hitting 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 record was his after he blasted a his first home run in Yankee Stadium this year, on July 9th. What makes it more amazing is that the person who caught it, Christian Lopez, gave it back. For his kindness, and passing up of 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 Derek Jeter. $250,000 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 around $14,000 in taxes on it. To his credit, Lopez has said he’ll pay whatever he’s supposed to pay.

I personally think that he should have to pay taxes on it, that’s just how the system works. However, I think that MLB or the Yankees should give him enough cash to cover it (I originally wrote this Wednesday morning, since then a bunch of folks have seized the opportunity to help pay taxes, his student loans, etc.). It’s a lot like when Oprah Winfrey gave away all those cars. She gave away 276 Pontiac G-Six cars to her audience and anyone who got one was to owe $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 $1,932,000 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?

(Photo: sf9067)

{ 39 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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39 Responses to “Your Take: Taxing the Guy Who Caught Derek Jeter’s 3000th Hit”

  1. Yet another reason not to live in NY. The Yankees or Jeter should pay the taxes for Lopez.

  2. I agree with you, Jim, he should have to pay. It’s exactly like the Oprah example or winning the lottery, it’s all technically income. The thing that I like most about this whole circus is the reason why he gave the ball back, citing the fact that Jeter earned it and he should be the one to decide the fate of the ball. That was a class move on the kid’s part and just for that he gets my respect.

  3. Brian says:

    This also raises the question: if someone pays the taxes for him, would that be considered taxable income?

    • billsnider says:


      Why not?

      • Texas Wahoo says:

        Yes. But they can pay enough to cover those taxes. So instead of paying him the actual tax he owes, they would pay him (the taxable amount of the ball + (the taxable amount * his tax bracket)) * his tax bracket. Assuming I didn’t confuse myself, that’s right.

  4. STRONGside says:

    Yeah, it seems pretty crazy that this poor guy is being penalized for doing a good thing. But then again, I guess we all need to follow the rules and play along. I heard an interview with him where he kept stalling on his future plans, but it sounds like he has some major deals in the works. I think in the end, he will be well taken care of and not have to worry about his student loans or paying taxes or anything else!

  5. NateUVM says:

    As nice as this story is, and a GREAT reminder of what life could be like if money weren’t such a motivating factor for so many people, I REALLY think it was a bad idea for him to just give it back.

    Think of his situation, he’s got school loans all over the place and he’s going to have them for a while at his current income level. $250,000 is REAL money and could make a HUGE difference in his life.

    But say he’s being honest and he doesn’t care about the money, etc… Well, then give it to charity. They certainly could have used it.

    Yeah, yeah, it’s great that Jeter got his ball back. But something tells me that getting that ball back doesn’t mean as much to him as $250k could have meant to this guy or some charity. If it did, Jeter would’ve been willing to give the $250k himself.

  6. Shirley says:

    If the Yankees call the transactions “gifts”, there will be no taxes… or so I understand.

    Miller High Life has offered to pay the taxes for Christian Lopez if there are any taxes.

    Mr. Lopez commented that Jeter worked hard for that run and that the ball truly belonged to Jeter. I think he stood for his principles vs. money (by selling the ball)in a very honorable way. I admire him.

    • Steiner Sports and Modell’s have also said that they will pay at least $25,000 each toward his student loans, and Modell’s owner gave the kid his 2009 World Series ring too.

    • billsnider says:

      There is a limit to the amount you can give in a year. The rest is gtaxable,

      Bill Snider

      • Texas Wahoo says:

        But it’s taxable to the giver, not the person receiving the gift.

        • billsnider says:

          The comment is that there is no tax if you call it a gift. My point is that there is in fact a tax. Who pays it is anotherr issue.

          Bill snider

          • Shirley says:

            Oops… you are right, Bill. I should have said, “If the Yankees call the transactions “gifts”, there will be no taxes due from Christian on these gifts.” 😉

          • Texas Wahoo says:

            I was just clarifying your point about the gift tax.

  7. Grace L. says:

    According to Consumerist, Miller High Life is offering to take care of the taxes for him.

  8. No Debt MBA says:

    I think your solution of the team paying the taxes makes a lot of sense.

  9. mannymacho says:

    I heard that a lot of marketers have jumped on this guy, he’s getting his own baseball card and everything. All of the publicity may prove to be more profitable (but at least it will certainly be more memorable) than just selling it on ebay.

  10. billsnider says:

    This is another example where one should understand the consequences of their actions.

    Bill Snider

  11. Mzzingu says:

    They could have given him a corporate jet and differed interest payments instead. The taxes would have been lessened. Some entitlements aren’t so obvious.

  12. Mzzingu says:

    Grr. Auto-correct. Deferred

  13. Jason says:

    While I don’t necessarily think giving the ball back immediately was the wisest choice, it wasn’t a total bonehead move. It looks as if the Great American Product Placement Frenzy is sucking him in and throwing incentives his way to attach their name to his initially selfless act. Notice the spurned contestants on the Bachelor who immediately start playing to the camera to try and secure a spot as the next Bachelor/ette…there are repurcussions (good or bad) beyond the immediate outcome.

    He probably had some regret in the short term, but it looks like he’ll be just fine, and maybe even better as mannymacho said.

    What was the question? Oh yeah, of course he’s on the hook for the taxes. If somebody comes along and pays them for him (with some creative way to make it not look like more “income”) then more power to him.

  14. Sharon says:

    MLB should have paid the taxes. I think this was a good guy trying to do good, gave the ball back and got taxed for it. Sure he’ll enjoy his seats for the season–WTH is that he should have gotten lifetime seats.

  15. skylog says:

    should he be taxed? yes. should someone step forward? yes? where is jeter in all of this? i mean, yes, there are some signed items…etc…but this should be simple. the guy did such a selfless act, to be admired, sure, but i still believe a mistake. that said, jeter should have seen this, done something to cover everything needed and some. case closed. great story made even better. move on. the end.

  16. Rosa Rugosa says:

    Couldn’t care less.

  17. MoneyNing says:

    I don’t think we should be taxed when we receive a gift.

    Why does our system tax the person giving the gift if it’s a monetary gift but tax the recipient on these types of prizes?

    Does anyone know how they define what’s appropriate?

  18. Wilma says:

    Reminds me of the time Rosie O’Donnel tried to do a Oprah type good deed for a huge family that adopted almost all handicapped children. Tom Cruise got involved and so did many companies. Long story short the taxes were so high they couldn’t take the gifts. Also the government said if they took the gifts all their handicap funding would be taken away and they would have to pay back every thing they’d received that year. Talk about a raw deal. I can see why it’s done but the IRS should’ve watched that video of that couple taking care of these unwanted kids and left it slide. They weren’t living the good life high on the hog. They were struggling to care for all these children financially as well as physically.

    The government should be more worried about getting the taxes off those that have it and should be paying it.

  19. Annie says:

    I think that no good deed goes unpunished. The guy did a nice thing and now they want to tax him on it. The biggest problem in our society is that we penalize and tax good behavior and reward bad behavior.

    • Texas Wahoo says:

      To be clear, he will be taxed much less than if he had not done the “right thing.” He’s likely to be taxed on the benefits he received from the Yankees, not on the true value of the ball – which is an order of magnitude difference.

      • saladdin says:

        Of course being taxed on the sell means he made money. I would happily pay the taxes if I sold it. Pay off all debt and change the projection of the family finances.

  20. Mike says:

    That dude is an idiot. He caught the ball and let the Yankees take advantage of him. At the very least he could’ve asked the Yankees to pay for his college loans instead of the season tickets.

    • saladdin says:

      Why are they obligated to do anything for him? He caught the ball, it was his decision to keep, sell, trade or give it away.

      • Mike says:

        I’m saying the guy is an idiot. The Yankees were smart to take advantage of him. Even Derek Jeter managed to get the Yankees to overpay for his last contract. The Yankees won this “negotiation”.

  21. neenachbob says:

    Sounds like extortion at the highest levels in government.

  22. Freddy says:

    he shouldn’t pay a penny. go and pimp someone else. Derek should come up with some dough ( a lot )…he has plenty so give some to this nice guy that is giving you back the ball.

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