Building codes first appeared in the 18th century BC, in the Code of Hammurabi and are even referenced in the Bible.  Their intent, of course, is to promote public safety.  In addition to state and local building codes, there are national and international standards that jurisdictions may purchase and adopt as code. Obviously, there is a cost associated with developing, promulgating, and enforcing all of those codes.   So who pays for it?  Most building departments – the agencies generally responsible for building code enforcement – are intended to be enterprises.  They are expected to generate revenue, most commonly through the sale of building permits, that is sufficient to fund their operations.  Unfortunately, building permit fees are often unreasonably high and are used as revenue producers to fund non-building related government functions.  As an example, a couple of years ago, New York City’s Dept. of Buildings wanted to amend their rules to allow the department to charge fees of $1,000 for answering questions related to code variations.  When challenged by various design and construction organizations, the city readily admitted that their code was ambiguous and frequently required their interpretation.  In other words, they wanted to be paid recurring revenue for their failure to disseminate an adequate code.  As construction professionals, we certainly support building codes that protect the safety of the public, but we should not allow them to be used as another tax.  Building departments work for city or country managers and/or the elected governing body of those cities or counties.  They do not have taxing authority and the time to object to that practice is at the polls on election day, when the officials who do have taxing authority are held accountable by the taxpayers.