You’ll recall that Christian Lopez, in exchange for giving Jeter back his 3,000th hit ball, got signed baseballs, bats, jerseys and, most significantly, Legends Suite tickets to the Yankees’ remaining home games and any playoff games this year. And that he did that instead of, you know, keeping the baseball, giving it to an auction house and then pocketing six figures for it.
Well, the New York Times broke out the calculator and talked to some tax experts in an effort to figure out how much that decision — as opposed to merely auctioning the thing off — might cost Mr. Lopez:
The tickets to the 32 remaining home games (after Sunday) have a combined face value of $44,800 to $73,600, according to the team’s Web site. The tickets could be worth a lot more if the Yankees play deep into October. Steven Bandini, a tax partner at the accounting firm Zapken & Loeb, said that if the items were valued modestly at $50,000, they would probably carry a tax burden of about $14,000.
Another tax guy the Times spoke to believed that these things could be characterized as gifts instead of prizes, in which case he wouldn’t have to pay taxes on them. I’d certainly argue for that if I were Lopez, but if that doesn’t fly, he is at least thinking about how to deal with the taxes:
Mr. Lopez said if he had to pay taxes, he hoped he could borrow from his parents rather than sell his memorabilia.
That sound you hear is me repeatedly smacking my palm to my head. A little bit of it is also my heart breaking for this kid, but it’s mostly face-palming.
There is a suggestion toward the end of the article that the Yankees could perhaps step up and pay Lopez’s tax liabilities here. I’m not sure if that, in and of itself, would be taxable, so if you know accountants and/or tax lawyers, please chime in.
That’s all I got right now. If you need me, I’ll be busy contemplating the fungibility of cash, and wondering why more people don’t quite get this.