The MOST important tax tip I can give single moms for 2017 is this: File as soon as you possibly can.

After this year’s enormous data breach, there’s a 50-50 chance that some criminal out there has all of your personal financial information – and he will use it to file a fake tax return, and steal your refund.

Refund theft happens to millions of people every year…but the upcoming tax season will be even worse. Those sharks are already circling, and they’ll be ready to file on Day One.

The best thing you can do to protect your refund is file before they get a chance. If they do get there first, you will still get your refund – the IRS has a special program for identity theft victims – but it will take a lot of time and energy.

To make your life as easy as possible – and to make tax season a breeze this year – start gathering up your tax paperwork now. Gather up and organize your medical bills, donation receipts, and any other papers for deductions you normally take.

If you have a small business or a side gig, or work as a freelancer, start figuring out your income and expenses now.

Use this time to get all the tax ID numbers for the child care providers (including camps, preschools, after school activities, etc.) you’ve used this year so you’ll be able to collect your full child care credit…before Congress starts messing with it.

Do everything you can ahead of time, and I guarantee it will be so much easier to file early… and snag your refund before the thieves do.