Miller High Life and a sporting goods retailer are taking the sting out of the possibility that the tax man might throw a beanball at the New York Yankees fan who snagged the ball Derek Jeter smacked for a home run and his milestone 3,000th hit.
|Christian Lopez and Derek Jeter seal the deal with a handshake and some Yankee perks. (Getty Images Photo)
After Christian Lopez voluntarily surrendered the ball to Jeter at the ballpark on Saturday, the Yankees rewarded him with luxury suite tickets for every remaining home game and any postseason games the Yankees may play in — a gift valued in the neighborhood of $32,000. He also received autographed bats, balls, and jerseys.
The brewing company announced today that it would cover the taxes that the 23-year-old telephone sales rep might incur if the IRS decides to pitch him a bill, according to The Morning Call
in Allentown, Pa. Tax specialists say the tab could run from $5,000 to $13,000.
In addition, the Modells sporting goods chain said it will donate 5 percent of its sales of Yankees merchandise at its Times Square store for the next week to Lopez.
Even before Miller and Modells came out of the bullpen to relieve Lopez, he expressed no regrets about his decision to give Jeter the ball instead of trying to sell it for the $180,000 some estimates say it could have been worth on the auction block.
“Mr. Jeter deserved it,” Lopez said during a news conference at Yankee Stadium Saturday. “Yeah, money is cool and all, but I’m only 23 years old. I have a lot of time to make that. His accomplishment is a milestone.”
Lopez said he would answer, if the IRS knocked, but wouldn’t mind a little help.
"Worse comes to worse, I'll have to pay the taxes," the New York Daily News
quotes him as saying. "I'm not going to return the seats. I have a lot of family and friends who will help me out if need be. The IRS has a job to do, so I'm not going to hold it against them, but it would be cool if they helped me out a little on this."
Lopez is “a great guy," Terry Ganer, a die-hard Yankees fan and accountant for Ganer Grossbach & Ganer in midtown, told the Daily News. "But I'm pretty sure the tax man, unfortunately, is not a Yankee fan and will not look at this so sympathetically."
The IRS declined to comment to the Daily News, but accountants told the paper that the agency will view Lopez's reward from the team as income.
"What this guy did is incredible," said CPA Jack Gold told the Daily News. "I don't know of too many people who would have done that. But the IRS follows the rules, and the rules are the rules. That's the law.”
Which leaves one wondering whether the letter of the law would require taxation on the donations to bail Lopez out of the taxes, which could spur more donations, which could propel more taxes, until all the bases are full.
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