Imagine, hypothetically, that you were the one to catch Barry Bonds' 756th home run ball. It's not gonna be worth as much as it would have been a few years ago — you see, Barry Bonds has done a shitload of steroids, and many don't like that — but it still might, say, pay for a semester of college. (Public college. OK, we kid: It's expected to go for half a million.) Maybe you'd want to make a statement and throw it back. We'd applaud you for that ... but we'd be the only ones.
Anyway, over at one of the Wall Street Journal blogs, they're hypothisizing that you could be eligible to be taxed the minute you grabbed the ball.
It's taxable income to the fan the instant that person catches the ball because it's "accession to wealth." This view logically stems from cases saying that someone who finds a "treasure trove" owes tax on it right away.
That's extremely depressing. Tim Forneris, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you. You dope.
Tax Law Final Exam Question: Barry Bonds's Ball [WSJ Law Blog]