New York City's quintessential A-list superstar, Yankees captain Derek Jeter, is in trouble with the taxman for claiming he resided in Florida during some of the biggest years of his Big Apple career.
New York state tax officials want Jeter to fork over what could be hundreds of thousands — even millions of dollars— in back taxes and interest for the years 2001 to 2003, when the baseball shortstop claimed residency in Florida, despite his high-profile presence in New York’s sports and gossip pages during that time.
Lawyers for Jeter, who has an off-season home in Tampa, Fla., dispute the claims that Jeter “immersed himself in the New York community” and made “numerous statements professing his love for New York" during the disputed period, according to documents published this week on a state Web site monitored by FOXNews.com.
The posting came in the form of an administrative judge's rulings on a number of seemingly mundane issues related to the ongoing case.
Jeter's agent, Casey Close of Creative Artists Agency Sports, disputed tax officials' claim that the baseball star lived in New York during the time in question.
"As a Yankee, Derek has great affection for the people of New York and its amazing fans, but since the mid-1990s, he has made his home in Tampa, Florida," Close said in an e-mail to FOXNews.com.
A New York City lawyer for Jeter named in the judge's ruling, Maria T. Jones from the firm Kramer Levin, declined to confirm that the Yankee shortstop was her client when reached by telephone.
The ruling shows that Jeter has actually claimed Florida residency since 1994, though he first came up with the Yankees late in the 1995 season. State officials aren't disputing those filings, even though Jeter became an increasingly prominent presence around town during that time period, often in the company of young starlets and other New York celebrities.
But the team captain's headline-grabbing purchase in 2001 of a $13 million apartment at the ultra-exclusive Trump World Towers on Manhattan’s East Side may have been too much for tax collectors to ignore.
In the years following the purchase, Jeter bought up even more space in the building, and at one point was shelling out $8,000 a month for a getaway rental in Long Island, also in New York state.
The Trump World Towers is one of New York's most elite residences. Jeter teammates Hideki Matsui and Alex Rodriguez have their own apartments in the opulent building, and so do other notable celebrities.
"That could be the red flag," said one Manhattan attorney in private practice who handles state tax claims. "He may well be able to satisfy the requirements of Florida residency, though it might not seem that way for such a big-name New Yorker."
Jeter can probably afford to pay up if he loses the case. He signed a $189-million-dollar contract in 2001 — perhaps not coincidentally the first year disputed in the case — makes millions more in endorsements and enjoys a reputation for being mature and responsible with his wealth and fame.
Lawyers for Jeter and the state may still yet settle the case, before the superstar is forced to sit face-to-face with tax officials.
Yankee fans, meanwhile, reacted with a mix of disappointment and bemused sympathy to the news.
"Of course he lives in New York," said New Jersey resident Tony Benitez, a fan sporting a Yankees cap in Times Square. "But, hey, if I could get away with that, would I try it? What do you think?"