IRS to auction of Darryl Strawberry's baseball annuity

Though former baseball star Darryl Strawberry has not played in the Major Leagues since 1999, he is still being paid for his services. That will come to an end when the IRS auctions off the annuity he receives from the New York Mets to help pay off a tax debt.

Strawberry was a star outfielder for the Mets when he signed a contract extension with the team in 1985. As part of the deal, worth around $7 million, a portion of Strawberry’s salary was deferred. Instead of getting the money during the course of the contract, Strawberry agreed to receive nearly $8,900 a month for 30 years after the end of his career.

However, the IRS says that Strawberry failed to pay the full amount of federal income taxes he owed in 1989, 1990, 2003 and 2004, putting the agency onto the scent of the ballplayer’s assets, including the annuity. Strawberry has been paying part of the annuity to his former wife since 2006 as alimony, but a federal judge has ruled that the payments belong entirely to Strawberry, so the IRS could use the full amount to collect his tax debts.

Instead of waiting for a check each month, the agency has decided to auction it off, in a move an IRS spokesman said was probably “a unique event” in its history. The remainder of the annuity is worth $1.28 million, but the IRS has set the minimum bid at $550,000, so bidders could get a bargain at the Jan. 20 auction.

Still, a CPA guessed that bidders might be more interested in a connection to the former Major League slugger than a financial windfall. Or the winner might get a kick out of the idea of being on the Mets’ payroll, in a way.

People in Maryland with tax problems who hope to keep as much of their assets as possible should speak to a tax attorney right away.

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