Do you start thinking about filing your tax return when it gets close to the April deadline? You might even want to file for an extension so you don’t have to send your return in until October. But filing early can help protect you from tax identity theft, a growing scam in which thieves file bogus returns using victims’ Social Security numbers. Tax ID theft can cause big headaches and delay legitimate refunds. But if you file first, it will be the return filed by a potential thief that will be rejected, not yours. The IRS begins accepting 2016 returns on Jan. 23.