Tax Season Tribune

up arrow

It’s baseball season, and at least one thing hasn’t changed

By Austin Lewis

Managing Editor

It’s April, and baseball season is in full swing — for most of us anyway. This author would argue that a sport with a pitch clock, no infield shifts, a three-batter minimum for relief pitchers, a free runner on second base in extra innings, and full adoption of the designated hitter is not the same sport it used to be.1

But when it comes to baseball memorabilia, there’s something that hasn’t changed: You’ll be hit with a tax bill if you sell a home run ball.

New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge broke the American League’s single-season home run record last year, and estimates put the ball’s value between $1 million and $2 million.2 According to former Treasury employee Michael J. Graetz, recognizing the ball as ordinary income would mean a tax bill of at least $332,955. And former IRS chief counsel Donald Korb’s position is that if a fan keeps a ball for more than a year before selling, it would be treated as a collectible and taxed at 28%.

Believe it or not, the IRS’s stance up until 1998 was that even giving a ball away — including simply returning it to a player who hit a home run — would trigger a tax bill. But that all changed in 1998 with the home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.3

Charles Rossotti, the IRS Commissioner at the time, said, “All I know is that the fan who gives back the home run ball deserves a round of applause, not a big tax bill.”

And believe it or not, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle actually agreed! Today that sounds as foreign as a pitcher stepping into the batter’s box.

TGIF Mozzarella sticks bag

Your own personal wind turbine

By Kathryn Zdan, EA

Editorial Director

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 provides for a number of energy efficient tax rebates, including tax credits for individuals who purchase clean fuel vehicles and make energy efficient upgrades to their home. But exactly what are some of these energy-efficient properties listed as qualifying for the credits?

Biomass stove:1 Biomass stoves burn biomass fuel to heat a home or heat water. Biomass fuel includes agricultural crops and trees, wood and wood waste and residues (including wood pellets), forest debris, plants, grasses, residues, and fibers. The organic matter is pressed into pellets that are fed into the stove from a hopper. The pellets produce a clean burn, but there can be issues with creosote buildup and emissions if the pellets aren’t burned properly. Biomass stoves typically cost between $1,000 and $3,000.

Geothermal heat pump:2 These devices have been in use since the 1940s and use the constant temperature below ground to exchange heat with the earth when the air above is colder than the ground (they are also used to cool air in the hot summer months). Underground temperatures stay at around 50 degrees all year. The heat pump doesn’t burn fuel to create warmth; it moves existing heat from one place to another. They don’t burn gas or oil to operate and they use less electricity than other heating/cooling systems. A geothermal heating and cooling system can cost between $12,000 to $45,000 depending on the type of system installed.

Small wind energy:3 This is what it sounds like: a tiny, personal wind turbine. These turbines have blades that are between 5 and 12 feet and they produce between 500 watts and 10 kilowatts of power. To start generating electricity, small turbines have to reach a wind speed of about 8.9 mph. Residential wind turbines with outputs of 2–10 kilowatts cost between $12,000 and $55,000 installed, and usually pay for themselves in energy savings in 5 to 12 years.

The emotional lifecycle of a tax season

By Mike Giangrande, J.D., LL.M.

Federal Tax Editor

Whether tax season ends on April 15 or is extended to consume most of the calendar year, you’ve probably hit each of these phases at one point or another.

Naive optimism

Workflow turnaround time is acceptable, but December's optimism has already faded

Backlog is manageable, but business clients are taking too long to provide financial statements. The few really diligent clients are helping to maintain sanity

Panic is setting in. How will we make it to April 15? I need a new career! Why do I put myself through this torture every year!?!

I don't want to do this anymore! It's killing me. Is Home Depot hiring? I'm putting everyone on extension and going to cry in the closet with a bottle of wine.

A few fun facts about this week’s writers:

Mike Giangrande, J.D., LL.M.

Mike Giangrande, J.D., LL.M., is an Orange County native, and you can find him around his backyard smoker, working in his garage, or sipping lemonade at either a baseball or soccer game for this three children.

Kathryn Zdan, EA

Kathryn Zdan, EA, spends her non-Spidell hours on photography and watching horror films (and then sleeping with the light on). She also enjoys hiking, biking, and watching foreign films.

Austin Lewis

Austin Lewis loves music and the outdoors, and if he’s not going to a concert you can probably find him on a hike somewhere. Last summer he traveled to Peru, where he spent seven days on the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu.

Never miss an issue

Did a friend forward this to you? To get on the Tax Season Tribune mailing list, visit and submit your e-mail address. Past issues of the Tax Season Tribune can be accessed through the Tribune Archives.