No good deed goes unpunished - the fan who handed over Derek Jeter's 3,000th-hit ball will owe the IRS thousands, tax pros said Monday.
Christian Lopez, 23, will probably be on the hook for $5,000 to $13,000 because of the luxury seats the grateful Yankees gave him, the accountants said.
"He's a great guy," says Terry Ganer, a die-hard Yankees fan and accountant for Ganer Grossbach & Ganer in midtown. "But I'm pretty sure the tax man, unfortunately, is not a Yankee fan and will not look at this so sympathetically."
Lopez says he'll pay - but he wouldn't mind a little help.
"Worse comes to worse, I'll have to pay the taxes," he told the Daily News on Monday. "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, a Verizon customer sales rep, caught the home run ball on Saturday and gifted it, no strings attached, to Jeter.
In return, the Yankees gave him luxury suite tix for every remaining home game as well as any postseason games the Yankees may play in - a gift valued in the neighborhood of $32,000.
He also received some autographed bats, balls and jerseys.
The IRS declined to comment, but accountants say the agency will view Lopez's reward from the team as income.
"What this guy did is incredible," said Jack Gold, 51, a CPA for Adelman Katz & Mond in midtown. "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.
"The only thing I can equate it to is like going on The Price is Right' and winning an all-expense-paid trip to Tahiti," Gold added.
One midtown tax pro said that the Yankees should offer Lopez the assistance he needs.
"It would appear that he's going to be hit with some tax consequences," said CPA Bob Charron, 64, a partner at Friedman LLP in midtown. "What the Yankees should do is pay the taxes on this for him - if they really want to make a public relations triumph."