One fortunate fan caught Arron Judge’s record breaking home run baseball, but that catch could come with a big price tag.
- New York Yankee Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run of the season Tuesday night, breaking the American League record for single-season home runs. Judge beat a record set in 1961 by Yankee Roger Maris.
- Cory Youmans is the fan who caught Judge’s record breaking ball, but some complicated rules from the IRS could mean that anyone catching a record-setting ball could end up paying more to Uncle Sam than anticipated.
- The ball is estimated to be worth around $2 million.
Why it’s news
The IRS has limited guidelines on exactly how souvenirs like Judge’s baseball can be taxed, but a perfect storm driving up the prices of sports memorabilia could change that.
A recent increased interest in sports memorabilia has driven up prices on existing pieces and a dearth of home run derbies over the last 20 years has made home run balls particularly valuable. Modern players haven’t hit as many milestone records, meaning any symbols of historic moments will have greater value.
Though the true value of something like Judge’s home run ball is hard to predict before auction, experts estimate it will be valued somewhere between $1 million and $2 million.
The taxes on the baseball could add a whole level of complexity to Youmans’ catch. The ball could fall under the “treasure trove regulation.” This regulation would require that the baseball be categorized as ordinary income. If the ball is worth $1 million, the taxes could total at $332,955, and that’s just federal taxes. State taxes could push the total to $50,000 or $100,000.
If a fan were to gift a record breaking ball back to the player who hit it—the ball could technically be considered a gift, triggering further taxes.
The likelihood, however, of the IRS actually implementing these regulations is fairly low.
The last time an IRS spokesman suggested fans would be taxed for catching record setting baseballs was in 1998, and that suggestion resulted in angry outcry from members of Congress and the public.