September 08, 1998
Income & Gift Taxes Apply to
Catching Homerun Balls
WASHINGTON - In response to press speculation resulting from
events in major league baseball, the Internal Revenue Service today
provided a brief explanation of the basic income and gift tax
principles that would apply to a baseball fan who catches a home run
ball and immediately returns it.
In general, the fan in these circumstances would not have
taxable income. This conclusion is based on an analogy to principles
of tax law that apply when someone immediately declines a prize or
returns unsolicited merchandise. There would likewise be no gift tax
in these circumstances. The tax results may be different if the fan
decided to sell the ball.
Commenting on this situation, IRS Commissioner Charles 0.
Rossotti said, "Sometimes pieces of the tax code can be as hard to
understand as the infield fly rule. All I know is that the fan who
gives back the home run ball deserves a round of applause, not a big
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