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1952 Topps Mantle Redemption Turned into Tax Trouble for Winner

Mark Davis, the California collector who won a 1952 Mickey Mantle during Topps’ 2010 Million Card Giveaway, was forced to sell the card after being handed a big tax bill by the IRS.

Davis unlocked a Topps code online one night toward the end of the baseball season and up popped the hobby’s most iconic post-War card.  It was no cheap beater, either.  Topps sent him a card that had been authenticated and graded PSA 6 (EX-NM).

Unfortunately, all big prizes come with big tax bills. After redeeming the card  he received a 1099 form indicating Topps had placed the card’s value at $22,000.

“I was stunned,” Davis told Sports Collectors Daily via email.  “I asked my accountant to take a look at what I my tax bill would be. I was shocked to find out that the tax bill between the Federal and State returns was nearly $7,000.”

Davis had never seriously considered selling the card, but the bill was due and payable in less than 90 days. It was too much to manage.

“I spent a couple of weeks considering my options, but it was clear that I would have to reluctantly sell the card,” Davis recalled.

Topps was required to inform the IRS about the transfer of the asset and $22,000 was the estimate they placed on the card based, no doubt, on recent sales, but perhaps estimating at the high end to avoid any trouble.  Most ’52 Mantle cards in the PSA 6 grade had been selling for $15-20,000.

The owner of the local card shop where he’d purchased the card made a few calls to some high profile dealers and an auction house he does business with. There was interest in the card, but none of the verbal offers came close to the $22,000 value on his 1099.

He decided to list it on eBay with an opening bid of $14,999 for seven days. He got what he called several “low ball offers” but the auction ended with no bids.

Undaunted, he re-listed the card, lowering the starting price to $13,999.

This time, the card received several bids and eventually sold for $15,101 to an auction house.

“It was a bittersweet transaction,” Davis admitted.  “Bitter for having to sell an iconic card, and sweet because I was able to possess it for a few months and pay my taxes too. If I had more experience with this type of situation I would have done a few things differently. I would have redeemed the card in January 2011 instead of October 2010. This would have given me nearly 14 months to save for the taxes due on the 1099 income, and I would have worked with Topps on setting a more realistic value for the card. I probably would list the card through an auction house to relieve myself of the stress and let them handle the entire transaction. All in all it was a great experience. I learned a lot, and hope that others can learn from my experience if they are lucky enough to win a valuable prize collectible like I did.”

Several graded 1952 Topps Mantles are currently being offered on eBay. Click here to check current prices.

About Rich Mueller

Rich is the editor and founder of Sports Collectors Daily. A broadcaster and writer for more than 30 years and a collector for even longer than that, he's usually typing something somewhere. Type him back at [email protected].

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  1. […] was slightly off on my numbers. The IRS valued it at $22k, and got a tax bill for $7k. 1952 Topps Mantle Redemption Turned into Tax Trouble for Winner __________________ http://www.ustream.tv/channel/imnotded – My UStream […]

  2. [...] Sports Collectors Daily has the story of a California collector who won the iconic 1952 Topps Mickey… in the cardmaker’s 2010 Million Card Giveaway contest. Mark Davis was forced to sell the card [...]

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