Direct tax collections during the first nine-and-a-half months of the current fiscal have risen by 18.7 per cent to Rs 6.89 lakh crore, the tax department said today. The collections till January 15, 2018 represent over 70 per cent of the Rs 9.8 lakh crore revenue target from direct taxes, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) said in a statement. “The provisional figures of direct tax collections up to January 15, 2018, show that net collections are at Rs 6.89 lakh crore which is 18.7 per cent higher than the net collections for the corresponding period last year,” it said.Gross collections (before adjusting for refunds) have increased by 13.5 per cent to Rs 8.11 lakh crore during April,2017 to January 15, 2018. Refunds amounting to Rs 1.22 lakh crore have been issued during this period. Stating that there has been “consistent and significant” improvement in the position of direct tax collections during the current fiscal, the CBDT said the growth rate of total gross collections has improved from 10 per cent in Q1, to 10.3 per cent in Q2, to 12.6 per cent in Q3 and to 13.5 per cent as on January 15, 2018.Similarly, the growth rate of total net direct tax collections has climbed up from 14.8 per cent in Q1, to 15.8 per cent in Q2, to 18.2 per cent in Q3 and to 18.7 per cent as on January 15, 2018. The growth in corporate tax collections has risen from 4.8 per cent in first quarter of current fiscal to 10.1 per cent in Q3 and 11.4 per cent as on January 15, 2018. Similarly, the growth rate of net corporate tax collections increased from 10.8 per cent in Q2 to 17.4 per cent in Q3 and to 18.2 per cent as on January 15, 2018.