Watchwoman on the Wall

Derek Jetter

Christian Lopez might end up wishing he kept that baseball after all.

Lopez became more than a footnote to the spectacle of Derek Jeter(notes) getting his 3,000th hiton Saturday at Yankee Stadium by returning the milestone baseball to the New York Yankeesshortstop rather than cash it in for a likely six-figure payday. That touched off a debate still raging among fans days later: Would you have given the ball back or sold it to the highest bidder for a payday that was rumored as high as $250,000?

For his gesture, Lopez was rewarded by the Yankees with luxury box tickets for the rest of the season (including postseason), along with signed baseballs, bats and jerseys from Jeter. In addition, Lopez received four premium front-row seats to last Sunday’s Yankees-Rays game.

Nice haul, right? Sure, but with those generous gifts comes tax liability. As George Harrison once sang for the Beatles, “Let me tell you how it will be; There’s one for you, nineteen for me. ‘Cause I’m the Taxman.”

The IRS will likely consider Lopez’s gratuities from the Yankees as income, and if so, he could end up having to pay anywhere from $5,000 to $13,000 in taxes, according to the New York Daily News. The New York Times, meanwhile, says the face value of the tickets to the remaining 32 regular-season games at Yankee Stadium are worth anywhere between $44,800 and $73,600. The paper’s conservative estimateputs Lopez’s tax bill at $14,000.

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