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Christian Lopez, Fan Who Caught Jeter's 3000th Hit, to Owe IRS?

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on July 13, 2011 12:59 PM

According to prior guidance by the IRS, there would be no Jeter ball tax if the Yankees had simply decided not to reward Christian Lopez, the fan who graciously returned the player's 3000th-hit ball last week.

But now that the life-long Yankees fan has been gifted with box seats and signed Jeter memorabilia, he may have to deal with the IRS come next tax season.

And he could owe them thousands.

In return for handing over Jeter's ball, the Yankees provided Christian Lopez with four box seats for the rest of the season, as well as signed bats, balls, and jerseys worth in excess of $32,000, reports the Daily News.

Whether he will have to pay taxes on these items depends on whether the IRS considers them a non-taxable gift or income.

While he returned Jeter's ball out of the goodness of his Yankee-loving heart, it's not likely that the IRS will consider the tickets and swag a non-taxable gift.

After all, they were premised on the exchange of valuable property (the ball) even if Lopez didn't expect or ask for compensation.

The IRS could also simply define the items as a prize, as the fan was rewarded for his luck and generosity. Prizes are unfortunately a form of taxable income.

At this point, it's really impossible to determine whether the IRS will collect a Jeter ball tax, but Christian Lopez doesn't seem to mind. He plans to deal with the IRS sometime next year, and use as many tickets as he can.

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