Following an infusion of financial support from the North Bay Entrepreneurship Center and the city of Rohnert Park, the cost to take part in the NxLeveL Entrepreneur Course has been reduced to $195, from $495.

Offered in Sonoma and Marin counties by the Small Business Development Center at Santa Rosa Junior College, the 12-session business management curriculum spans subjects including financial management, sales, leadership and market research.

“Many entrepreneurs are extremely knowledgeable about their unique product or service but don't know how to run the ‘business side’ of their business," said SBDC Director Lorraine DuVernay. "The NxLeveL Entrepreneur Course teaches them how to successfully manage their business and build a foundation for growth.”

Taught by Noah Harris in Sonoma County and Herb Liberman in Marin, the courses involve several guest speakers, textbooks and mentoring. About 300,000 people in 50 states have participated in the program since it began in 1994.

Those interested in the program can attend one of two upcoming orientation sessions at the future class location for free: at the Sonoma Mountain Business Cluster in Rohnert Park, 1300 Valley House Drive #100, on March 1 from 6-7 p.m., and at the Dominican University Venture Greenhouse in San Rafael, 30 Castro Avenue, on Feb. 29, from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Classes begin March 7 in Marin County and March 8 in Sonoma County, and additional members of businesses can attend for $95, excluding materials. Attendees from Rohnert Park businesses will receive an additional $50 discount through the financial support of the city.

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One of the provisions in the current package of favorable gift and estate tax conditions -- the ability to take the exemption of one’s deceased spouse -- has received an extension from the Internal Revenue Service.

The agency described the extension in a February memo, following public comment indicating concerns that included some executors being unaware of the filing required to obtain the so-called “portability election.”

Previously, executors of estates were required to file for a six-month extension with Form 4768 within nine months of the spouse’s death. Now, in a move impacting estates where a spouse died between Dec. 31, 2010, and July 1, 2011, the IRS is granting an automatic extension spanning 15 months from the date of death. Executors must file the Form 4768 within that time, and file Form 706 to request the portability election.

Following the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010, married couples were each allowed to pass $5 million of their assets tax-free. That exemption is expected to end this year, creating a narrowing window that could benefit high-net-worth individuals and business owners passing on their legacy to a successor.

The portability of the current rules allows the passing of the unused exemption amount from a deceased spouse to a survivor, allowing the surviving spouse to pass on $10 million in assets tax-free.***Submit items for this column to Eric Gneckow, or 707-521-4259.