Yankees Fan's Good Deed Could Prove Taxing

Jul 13, 2011
Originally published on July 13, 2011 8:52 am

The feel-good story of last week about the young New York Yankees fan who very willingly gave back the home run ball that shortstop Derek Jeter clobbered to get his 3,000th career hit took a predictable but still somewhat depressing turn yesterday.

The New York Times reported that: "No Good Deed Goes Untaxed (Perhaps)."

Yes, according to the Times 23-year-old Christian Lopez might owe the Internal Revenue Service as much as $14,000 because of the $50,000-or-so in gifts he got from the Yankees (which included tickets to this year's remaining home games and some autographed bats, balls and other paraphernalia). A bill like that would be a burden for Lopez, a cell phone salesman who says he still has to pay off more than $100,000 in student loans for his education at St. Lawrence University.

But that "(Perhaps)" in the Times headline is important. According to a story today on ABC News' Good Morning America, "many tax experts believe Lopez could beat any attempt by the IRS to collect on good luck and believe that it's likely he will be able to write off the Yankee largesse as non-taxable gifts."

Tax lawyer John Barrie tells GMA that "since it seems Lopez gave the ball back without expectation of receiving anything in return, that could be a determining factor as to whether or not Lopez could get off the hook."

Now, if the I.R.S. does try to collect, there's always the chance that the Yankees might help Lopez out in some way.

But all this makes us wonder:

Update at 4 p.m. ET: The Associated Press reports that Topps will be putting a Christian Lopez trading card in its baseball sets later this year.

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