IT IS TIME to confess.

Oh please forgive me because I really want that tax break Ronald Reagan is promising and because sometimes I really do think the poor are taking advantage of the system and that things are really getting awful and that something has to be done and I am, sort of, on Reagan's side. But there are things I have to confess.

I have to confess that a lot of the time I eat lunch for free, I take someone to lunch and I discuss business a bit and then I pay for him or her, put the tab on my expense account and then have the company pay for it. Then the company deducts it from its taxes so we all wind up paying for my lunch -- you, me and the very poor, assuming you are not the very poor.

I have more to confess. I know of worse outrages than the poor who cheat on welfare and the kids who don't deserve food stamps and the people who take advantage of government and don't do any work. I know people who take their girlfriends or their mistresses to lunch, put it on their expense accounts and wind up having the government pay for some of it. I know people who work for themselves and then just deduct almost every meal from their taxes.

I have even more to confess. I know someone who bought a yacht that he uses just part of time. The rest of the time he rents it out to a company that charters it to still other people. It's a tax dodge. It's perfectly legal and probably the people who rent the yacht from the company that charters it deduct the cost from their taxes. It's legal for them, too. This is called smart business. When the poor do it, it's called cheating.

Oh I have even more to confess. I deduct the interest on my mortgage. I am entitled to do it and so I do it and it was this deduction that forced me to stop being a renter and become an owner. If you are poor, you cannot become an owner and so you cannot take this deduction.

If the poor were getting away with what the rich are getting away with, someone in Congress would introduce a bill to stop it all from happening. They would say something about how it's ruining the fabric of society. Time Magazine would make it the cover story. I would buy it and believe it -- and deduct the cost of the magazine. This is something else I confess.

I confess also that I deduct the newspapers I might buy anyway and the books that I cherish. I do not belong to any clubs, if one would have me and I did belong, I probably would deduct the cost of that also. Either that, or my company would pay for it and it would deduct it from its taxes. It's okay. Its always okay when the rich do it. Only the poor rip off the government. Those are the rules.

I confess that I sometimes do not understand why I am allowed to deduct for things that I would buy anyway. I confess that I do not think it's fair that some guy has to buy his lunch and I can get mine free and I confess that a good deal of the time I think I have all this coming -- that I am entitled to it.I lose sight, I think, of what is really fair and really right and I start to think that if it benefits me, it has to be right and fair. I know lots of people like that. By and large, they won the last election.

I know, of course, that there is more to tax law than just what is fair and equitable. There is the little matter of making policy, of encouraging the housing industry, say, or wanting to help people who will take some financial risks -- like drilling for oil.I understand all that and I suppose it is a good idea, but I have to confess that I feel a bit guilty when I get worked up over something like welfare fraud and discuss it, say, over a swell lunch that the government has just helped me buy.

There is more for me to confess. I confess that I know a man who earns more than $100,000 a year and paid something like $4,000 in taxes. He deducts almost everything. I know people who have summer homes, rent them most of the year, stay in them something like two weeks, and save a bundle on taxes. They deduct, they depreciate, they finagle and they fib a little and when all is said and done the government pays for their house. So nice of us to do that for them.

I confess I have yet here anyone in the Reagan Administration talk of saving money by closing those loopholes. I confess I take advantage of these loopholes and I confess, further, that if it were not for the government, I might not be able to afford my house or, for that matter, my lunches.

I'll repent. I'll take a poor person to lunch.