Every once in a while, a little news story catches our eye, reminding us of just what a wonderful country we live in. Some minor vignette of Americana that reinforces that modicum of patriotic zeal that courses through the veins of every loyal citizen.
Such was last week’s story of 23-year-old Christian Lopez, the Verizon salesman from Highland Mills, New York, who caught New York Yankees' Derek Jeter's 3,000th career hit ball last Saturday. Lopez recovered the prized ball his father fumbled after The Captain hammered it into their section of the stands in the third inning of the Yankees' win over Tampa Bay.
And here’s the heart-warming part: Lopez decided not to keep the ball—as was his right—but instead gave the ball back to Jeter, whom he called an "icon.” The fan’s actions certainly constitute a shining example of the selflessness and sportsmanship that has made America what it is today.
The story gets better. The specially marked home run ball Lopez returned to Jeter was estimated to have been worth about $250,000 to $300,000 at auction. How do we know this? Well, it seems Mr. Lopez has been contacted by a friendly representative of President Obama’s Internal Revenue Service (Perhaps one of the 16,500 new IRS agents proposed for enforcement of the new ObamaCare law?).
According to the tax man, Lopez will owe around $13,000 in income taxes on the gifts he has received from the Yankees (free seats, meals, prizes, etc.) because he caught Jeeter’s ball. Additionally, he may have to pay a gift tax on the value of the prize ball, because it legally belonged to Lopez for a few seconds, before he “gave” it to Jeeter. Under IRS regulations, the “donor” of a gift may be held responsible for gift taxes of up to one-half the value of the “gift.”
Mr. Lopez—a college graduate who majored in Government—told the New York Daily News: "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."
Despite evidence that taxation promises to eclipse baseball as the National Pastime, this is still a wonderful country. Isn’t it?