Barry Bonds is like a bad cough that just wont go away. Even after he hit 756*, one would think that the lucky fan who wound up with the baseball had hit life’s lottery. Not to fast, enter the IRS. Did you think they are not going to get their? We may have just found one thing even more reprehensible that Barry Bond’s so-called breaking Hank Aaron’s home run record.
“It’s an expensive catch,” said John Barrie, a tax lawyer with Bryan Cave LLP in New York who grew up watching the Giants play at Candlestick Park. “Once he took possession of the ball and it was his ball, it was income to him based on its value as of yesterday,”
That would instantly put Murphy, a college student from Queens, in the highest tax bracket for individual income, where he would face a tax rate of about 35 percent, or about $210,000 on a $600,000 ball.
Exactly how does one determine the value of a baseball? Its not a new car or boat that has an actual value. Its a baseball where at most it would cost $15.00 in any sporting goods store. Ok, now add the fact that there will be some presumed value to it as it was Barry Bond’s 756th* home run. How does one really determine what it is worth until it is sold? What is that really worth? There is a pending steroid investigation. What happens if the IRS places a value of $1 million on the baseball, makes 21-year-old Matt Murphy pay 38% of that and then it is determined that Bond’s did take steroids and the ball is worth ZERO! One has a worthless baseball that they have already had to pay a fictitious value on. Even if a fan gives the ball back to the player, there seems to be confusion over whether there is a tax bill required.
As Mark McGwire chased the mark for most home runs in a season in 1998, IRS officials initially said the ball that broke Roger Maris’ long-standing record could be subject to taxes even if it were returned to McGwire. The statements were ridiculed by politicians and quickly disavowed by the agency’s top brass.
“All I know is that the fan who gives back the home run ball deserves a round of applause, not a big tax bill,” then-IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti said at the time.