The IRS is opening the 2019 individual income tax return filing season on Jan. 27. Even if you usually don’t file until closer to the April 15 deadline (or you file an extension), consider being an early-bird filer this year. It can potentially protect you from tax identity theft. In these scams, a thief uses another person’s personal information to file a fraudulent return early in the filing season and claim a bogus refund. Then, when the legitimate taxpayer files, the IRS rejects the return because one with the same information has already been filed for the year. If you file first, any would-be fraudulent returns will be rejected by the IRS, rather than yours.