A Dependent Day Care Account is a pre-tax benefit used to pay for eligible day care expenses for qualified dependents in order for you (or your spouse) to work, look for work, or attend school full-time.

Account Benefits

  • Pre-tax contributions reduce your taxable income.
  • Your Dependent Day Care Account funds become available to you as payroll deductions are taken.
  • Easiest way to pay for everyday out-of-pocket eligible dependent day care and/or elder care expenses with tax-free money.
  • Multiple self-service tools available to easily manage your Dependent Day Care Account and reimbursement transactions. 
  • You can easily submit requests for reimbursement through your Optum online account

Note: Dependent day care costs can only be reimbursed from the Dependent Day Care Account through a manual claims processing and not on the payment card. 

How it Works

  • Use our tax-savings calculator or annual expense estimate worksheet to help determine how much you should contribute per year.
  • Your annual contribution is deducted pre-tax from your paycheck in equal amounts throughout the plan year and deposited into your Dependent Day Care Account.
  • The Dependent Day Care Account is a money-in money-out benefit. Each pay period a contribution posts to your account, after which you may submit reimbursement requests for eligible expenses.

Optum Financial Microsite

Visit the Optum Financial microsite to view resources, and access the member portal. Use the member portal or Optum Financial app to manage your account 24/7.

Enrollment Eligibility

Most full-time or part-time state and University of Wisconsin employees are eligible to participate in a Dependent Day Care Account.

For a married individual to be eligible for the Dependent Day Care Account, your spouse must be unable to provide dependent day care and/or elder care because he/she works full-time, is actively looking for work, enrolled in or attending school full-time, or physically/mentally incapable of self-care.

Ineligible employees:

  • Employees who are classified as fellows, scholars, and research assistants in the University of Wisconsin System, as well as limited term employees, student hourlies, per diems, and other temporary employees.

Annual Limits










Any unused Dependent Day Care Account funds at the close of the plan year 2024 will be forfeited.



  • For 2023 benefit period, you must incur all eligible expenses by December 31, 2023.
  • For 2024 benefit period, you must incur all eligible expenses by December 31, 2024.


  • For 2023 benefit period, you must submit all reimbursement requests by March 31, 2024.
  • For 2024 benefit period, you must submit all reimbursement requests by March 31, 2025.

Review all claims and provide any required substantiation by December 31 each year. 

Eligible Expenses

An eligible expense is a dependent care expense the IRS states can be paid for without taxes. Eligible expenses may only be incurred by your qualified dependent(s). Health care expenses are not eligible.

Use the Medical expense eligibility tool to search for eligible dependent care expenses. For the complete list of eligible and ineligible expenses, visit www.IRS.gov and see IRS Publication 503.

Tracking Eligible Expenses

You should keep all your receipts and pertinent documentation to prove your Dependent Day Care Account was used for eligible dependent care expenses. If you pay for anything other than eligible expenses with your Dependent Day Care Account the amount will be taxable, and you will be required to repay the amount or pay an additional tax penalty.

Enrollment Information

Learn how to enroll in a pre-tax saving account during open enrollment, as a new hire, or when you have experienced a qualifying life event.

Read More about Enrollment Information

Following Enrollment

You will receive a welcome brochure in the mail from Optum Financial.

Read More about Following Enrollment